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Local elections in Holland: what the papers say

Source: dutchnews.nl, Thursday 20 March 2014

Photos of Alexander Pechtold, leader of the victorious D66 Liberal democrats, dominate the front pages of the Dutch papers on Thursday.

The Volkskrant opens with ‘A knock for the Old Three’, implying that the old order of politics is over, at a local level at least but quite possibly on a national level as well.

In an analysis it writes that 18 months into the new cabinet the coalition partners are paying a high price for their cooperation.

According to Martin Sommer, the local election results prove ‘the voter has a memory’. Samsom’s earlier protests against ‘rotten right-wing policies’ turned into a failed attempt to make the ‘left-wing story gel with being part of a right-wing coalition’, a tactic that also tripped up local Amsterdam candidate Pieter Hilhorst, Sommer writes.

Landslide

The Financieele Dagblad in its editorial speaks of ‘a political landslide’ in many of the local councils. Contrary to the established national parties, ‘the local parties have been most successful at convincing people what is best for their town’, the paper writes.

The FD describes the voting mood in the Netherlands as against the establishment and for change. With the European elections in sight, some national parties will be hard put to find ways to attract the electorate: ‘They know who the voter is and what he wants but they can’t predict which way he will vote,’ the paper concludes.

Amsterdam

‘Pechtold’s big breakthrough’ is the NRC’s label for D66’s triumph in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

‘D66 no longer presented itself as the “reasonable alternative” but as the only alternative,’the paper writes. ‘Helped by a weak Labour campaign, the party managed to profile itself as potentially one of the main parties.’ The local victory will help D66 nationally, the paper thinks.

But it will take some tactical manoeuvering for the party to cash in on its success: ‘D66 has obviously thrived by being a constructive opposition party but it can’t be a very attractive option to support a cabinet of losers,’ the paper says, referring to the party’s support for the coalition.

‘Whatever happens, the party is sure to gain in stature. But on a local level it might be a challenge to find enough good people to keep up with the party’s growth,’ the paper concludes.

Destructive

Weekly news magazine Elsevier tackles last night’s ‘destructive’ performance by PVV leader Geert Wilders, who led voters in a chant for fewer Moroccans.

‘Wilders’ mindless provocation is making all Moroccans, including those who are decent citizens, feel they are unwelcome and should leave asap. This undermines integration’, the magazine writes.

‘In choosing this destructive course and by surrounding himself with sycophants, Wilders is radicalising in self-inflicted isolation’. This is a pity Elsevier thinks, because the PVV has a role to play in pointing out problems which other parties have chosen to ignore.

Local victories

The Telegraaf, which headlines its front page with ‘Labour floundering’, says the rise of the local parties shows the gap between central government in The Hague and the street has never been so great.

‘That distrust should be translated into self-reflection among the losing parties otherwise the trend will continue,’ the paper says.

There are particular lessons for the Labour leadership. Not only has the party paid the price of government policy but of major dissatisfaction with its lust for power in the big cities.

This will also have an impact on the PvdA as coalition partner. ‘The new balance of power can lead to political unrest and that is bad for the stability of the country,’ the paper concludes.

Rotterdam

The AD, too, focuses on local parties, and its opening headline makes this clear. ‘Locals beat the established order,’ states the paper, with a photograph of Joost Eerdmans, leader of Leefbaar Rotterdam, now the biggest party in the port city.

In its editiorial, the paper says the growth in local party support emphasises the peculiarities of the local elections. ‘They give local councils their colour and their own face,’ the paper writes. With the transfer of home care and youth care services to local control, they are also assuming an increasingly important part in the lives of individuals.

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