Netherlands: Minority gov't talks, Muslim CDA members oppose plan

Netherlands: Minority gov't talks, Muslim CDA members oppose plan

Immediately after the Dutch general elections, I polled my readers and asked whether they think Wilders would be a minister in the next Dutch government. 83% said he would. At the moment, Wilders as minister doesn't seem very likely, but what is looking more probable is a Danish-style minority cabinet, supported from outside the government by the PPV.

Via RNW:

CDA leader Verhagen said he trusted that a minority VVD-CDA cabinet supported by the PVV would result in a stable coalition. He said it was clear there were differences of opinion between the CDA and PVV on issues such as Islam and freedom of religion, which was one of the reasons negotiations were focussing on a minority cabinet because a coalition including both CDA and PVV proved impossible.

Mr Verhagen also said he was convinced that the current negotiations could lead to a coalition agreement which would do justice to the CDA principles regarding the freedom of religion and of education. The two parties would “not seek to conceal, but rather accept each other’s differences”, the CDA leader said.

More info on the coalition talks at Snouck and Klein Verzet.

According to the Maurice de Hond poll, 59% of the Dutch (NL) hope the negotiations will lead to the formation of a government. This includes almost all PVV and VVD voters, and 78% of CDA voters. Since the announcement of talks about a right-wing coalition, the CDA and VVD parties made up some of the votes they lost in recent polls to the PPV.

Several leading CDA members already spoke out against the plan. Additionally, Dutch newspaper De Pers interviewed Muslim local councilors (NL) for the CDA and found that they oppose a coalition with the PVV. They say that the PVV positions and Wilders' statements are incompatible with the ideas of the Christian Democratic Appeal, and they wonder how much Wilders is really willing to compromise.

Ibrahim Wijbenga from Eindhoven: "I think that the CDA is taking a big risk. Wilder's position towards the Muslim community is incompatible with our ideas. He made a caricature of the Muslim community and thereby excluded it."

Nihat Ulusoy of Schiedam: "This is not positive. I prefer not. The CDA should also think of their Muslim followers."

Ahmet Taskan represented the CDA in Utrecht for almost ten years and is still active in the party. "I'm convinced that PVV participation is not desirable," he says from Turkey. "The ideas of the PVV are not good for the Netherlands and bad for our reputation abroad. It's not about whether I'm a Muslim. Everybody will come to the same conclusion: a PVV government is not good for the country."

Alaattin Erdal, district councilor for Charlois in Rotterdam, is more nuanced. "If Wilders slows down and many CDA standpoints return to the coalition agreement, I see no impediment. I've sat in a coalition with Fortuyn the same emotion played back then, it's a question of communicating well with your followers."

The number of Muslim CDA councilors and voters is relatively small, but the party is trying to attract Muslims who today mostly vote for the PvdA. "We are a party where Muslims can feel at home," CDA parliament member and integration spokesperson Madeleine van Toorenburg told De Pers two years ago.

According to the Dutch Centre for Political Participation, the party has 22 Turkish councilmen and one Moroccan. A recent Forum study showed that the party has the potential to grow among Muslims. 7% of the Turks and 3% of the Moroccans said they'll probably vote for the CDA. 24% of the Turks and 20% of the Moroccans said they might vote for the party.

The ambition to attract Muslims might be set back by a government with the PVV. "The effect would be pretty big," says Ulusoy. Wijbenga also fears a punishment on the local level. "And this while the CDA has an ambition to attract more Muslim voters and they could appeal to them more than the leftist parties."

The party already announced that the party congress would have to approve the coalition agreement and Wijbenga intends to voice his opinion there. "I will be heard at the congress. The last word had not been said."