Dutch coalition has to lean on PVV and SGP for support of government...

Today was the day that the Dutch Members of the Provinces voted for the Members of the First (Upper) Chamber of Parliament. Traditionally this is called the 'reflection' Chamber, because it is not so much a political arena as the Second Chamber. It's role is, traditionally, to ensure quality of rules, rule-making and check the fundamentals of law. Only on occasion do the discussions in the First Chamber lead to parliamentary crises.

Well, as you can read here, it turned out that the current minority-coalition of VVD and CDA has failed to win an outright majority of seats in the upper house of parliament, or senate, according to the latest prognosis from Nos television. Even when combined with the PVV, the result is a mere 37 seats, which means that the coalition alliance (VVD, CDA and PVV) is still one seat short as the Chamber has 75-seat Members.The SGP has publicly stated however, that it will tend to support the coalition. And their support was of course much helped by the withdrawal of support (by VVD) for legislation which lifts the ban on blasphemy.

As a result, Prime Minister Mark Rutte is now facing the most serious balancing act since a long time. Rutte needs the support of PVV in the Second Chamber (Lower House) and needs the PVV for that.  Meaning he has to side with a party with strong anti-islam sentiments, that wishes Greece to step out of the euro and so on. And in the First Chamber (Upper House) he sides with the SGP, that has the political position that women should not be active in politics (and should focus on their maternal tasks primarily). And this is quite a combination... leading us in the Netherlands into ad-hocracy territory, due to the minority character of our governing coalition. And we haven't had situations before in which each government issue/thema had to be battled for independently in the Chambers. So we're up for some Realpolitik here in the Netherlands.

We should note however that this outcome is essentially doing proper justice to the outcome of the elections for the Upper and Lower House here. The Dutch were strongly divided, which resulted in a situation where it was no longer clear how to form a majority-coalition. So the voters have condemned the politicians to cooperation, despite their strong differences of opinion (and sometimes unagreeable manners or political views on other subjects). And it remains to be seen if this will be accompanied with proper conduct in the Houses of Parliament or whether we will see more name-calling and pub-talk. So the end result is that the voters have gotten what they represented: a divided caretaker government that will steer on a day-to-day basis, and will be unable to steer on long-term policy goals or to achieve fundamental changes.

I am curious to see if our Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, will succeed in his balancing act. Time will tell.