Ahead of the upcoming electoral Grand Slam in Europe (the Netherlands, France, Germany), Dutch parties and politicians spare no efforts to convince the average voter they are the solution to all problems of life.
The creativity of some is truly amusing. Here are just a few fine examples. There’s still time until 15th of March, so there’s still time to update the list 🙂
A happy Rutte
The current Prime Minister and his party, VVD, are gathering the troops for a third mandate. Their key feature? Optimism…
The jolly campaign video, with an even jollier Prime Minister, tells you that you can tackle any crisis with a smile and positivism. While watching it, at some point you expect Rutte to line up with a group of students in a spontaneous flash mob at a train station and dance Pharrell’s “Happy”!
For sure optimism is a large part of the Dutch mentality and is a good way to make things happen. It is also true that a positive Prime Minister is far better than one who’s imposing seriousness and stability by never smiling in public (because it’s not for real men!). However, a good balance between being optimistic and seriousness will articulate the VVD’s message much, much better. Extreme positivism is just as bad as extreme pessimism. Realism is what we’re all hoping for, not a happy face at all times. Today’s problems of the Netherlands do not narrow down to a glass half empty or half full.
The little CDA peacemaker (and the VVD response)
This one is a true gem and the actual inspiration for this article.
The campaign video of CDA takes us back to the year 1974, when Mark Rutte, Geert Wilders and Sybrand Buma, leader of CDA, were little boys. Apparently, they were also friends back then, sharing some quality beach time together. At some point, young Wilders (who must have been a trouble maker back then already) starts to show off and argues with young Rutte. Sybrand steps in as a peacemaker and declares that he will be a prime minister when he grows up – a far more constructive dream than of his friends. They were arguing who will be Prince Carnival – that may be important for children, but hey, Sybrand is a visionary, he dreams big ever since 1974 (up until today…).
VVD quickly responded in a no less childish manner, crushing young Sybrand’s dreams – “look who’s Prime Minister now, ha-ha-ha”.
A party that has it all covered
Also known as the Vrije Democratische Partij, which – I was surprised to find out – promises to protect the rights of Polish and Bulgarian citizens in particular! Why those two only, and how exactly they are discriminated and other Eastern Europeans are not, I have no idea 🙂 But hey, finally someone to stand for other EU citizens around here.
No, not really! The party’s programme of 63 points covers pretty much anything that has something to do with political or social life. The idea is clear, the result is a disaster, full of grammar and spelling mistakes.
What’s worse is that the programme contains plenty of non-democratic and self-contradicting points. Among others, a ban on abortion, Zwarte Piet, coffee shops and subsidies for Jewish organizations.
They also want taxation of social media (due to the badly written point, it’s not clear whether social media have to pay taxes in the Netherlands or people for using them), compulsory military conscription, but less budget for defense, mandatory halal butchers, voting rights for all Dutch citizens who are – wait for it – without Dutch nationality, and the buildings provided for social housing to be higher.
With Brexit and Donald Trump winning in 2016, the moment to catch the wave is now or never for the naughty boy of the Dutch politics, Geert Wilders.
I am sure he was himself very surprised to find out that xenophobic talks and a prominent blond quiff can actually win elections! He doesn’t sound all that absurd and drastic any more, even to himself! Oh, boy, let’s get to business, the sky is the limit.
It appears, however, that Wilders’ creativity is limited. Limited to copying what others did to win.
For example, by using Twitter to create a parallel reality. In February, he approached RET and requested to place an ad along the Rotterdam trams. Obviously (to himself including), the request was denied since the banner was anti-Islamist. That didn’t stop him from making an image of how it would look like, and tweet it. It didn’t happen in the real world? No problem, we have social media to make our own world.
Wilders’ campaign materials very often include his face (and blond quiff) alongside the Dutch flag – a campaign trademark of the American presidents, heavily used by Mr Trump. It implies glory – to the state and its (perspective) leader. That’s why they never look at you on these posters, but always ahead, to the bright future 🙂
It seems that Wilders also doesn’t think too high of his supporters too. In the official campaign video of PVV, he declares it is time for a change. Because the Americans did it, and the British did it too. So, the Dutch should not appear stupid and must follow the example, instead of having their own political vision.
Bonus point: the Dutch state
Of course, no elections will be real without the prominent participation of the state. This time, counter productively.
More and more debates and voices are raised in defense of those nearly 1.2 million Dutch citizens living abroad. A record number of abroad registrations were received this year. The voting-via-post system is old enough.
And yet, a record number of voters have not received their voting ballots on time! So their votes may not be registered at all. At present, it is yet to be decided what will count – the date a letter was received or the date of the stamp. How’s that for democratic rights and freedoms?