The breaking news here in the Netherlands is that Geert Wilders has left the building. And 'the building' is the so-called Catshuis, the seat of our prime-Minister. It is here that, during the past 7 weeks, the VVD (liberals) and CDA (christian-democrats) have negotiated with the PVV (Freedom Party) to agree on further austerity measures. And our prime-Minister Mark Rutte has just explained to the public that the Freedom Party has stopped the negotiations and was no longer willing to take its responsibility for the measures. CDA-delegate Verhagen has mirrored this remark so we can see that the blame-game has now started.
It is interesting to note that this step of Wilders occured only 12 hours after the group was provided with the data of the Dutch Planning Agency that had calculated the impact of the jointly agreed draft austerity-measures. And our foreign readers should also note that Wilders is increasingly losing momentum. Hero Brinkman has left the PVV, a couple of weeks ago. And the quite unelegant bashing of the Queen as well as Turkish official Gül last week, didn't win him a lot of supporters either (he immediately lost 2 seats in the polls).
So now we find ourselves in a tricky situation in the Netherlands: we need austerity measures and we need our government to act. But the support-construction with the Freedom Party have turned the past 2 years into a standstill with no serious economic reforms and lots of symbolic regulatory measures to please the public (and the PVV-voter). So while everyone in the Netherlands understands the need to reform, it is also clear that it is now time for new elections. The experiment with PVV has failed to work.
Our Prime Minister has of course phoned the Queen but has not resigned yet. He stated that the situation is so serious that he wants to discuss further steps with Parliament. And he leaves open the possibility that there will first be an agreement on government finances and afterwards elections. While some parties will want to follow this pragmatic route, it remains to be seen if the big opposition parties such as the left wing Socialistische Partij and the Partij van de Arbeid are willing to cooperate.
Geert Wilders has also given a press conference, just now, and he specifically blames Europe. He had outlined that he has stepped away, that he no longer supports the minority-government. And he stated that especially the cuts for elderly pensioners formed a serious issue for him.In the press-talk afterwards he repeatedly outlined that he did not wish to comply with the 3% rule of Brussel. So he started blaming Brussels and he started the election game.
It is clear to me that for Wilders, the duration of his cooperation with the minority-government was long enough to gain creditibility as a true states-man. And as he is losing support among the public, as his party starts to crumble, he must have decided that if ever, now is the time to capitalize on his popularity and to try his jump to become the biggest party in the Netherlands. In doing so he demonstrates once more that his major quality does not pertain to leading a party or a state, but is one of walking away from the debate and challenges that are really relevant to the nation.