Parliamentary elections in the Netherlands can be considered completed. It was rather unexpected that elections in small and quiet Holland would cause so many loud scandals. To tell the truth, if not for the assassination of far-right leader Pim Fortuyn right before the elections, there would have been no scandals at all.
Provisional results of the elections confirmed sociological forecasts. The Christian Democrats with Jan Peter Balkenende at the head are a sure winner at the elections; the far centrist party got 26% votes and 43 seats in the parliament of the total amount of 150 seats. Jan Peter Balkenende already announced that he could also be responsible for forming the new government, which is most likely to be a coalition government. However, this does not mean at all that Pim Fortyun’s List, which is now the number two party, will automatically receive posts in the new government. The government forming process in the Netherlands is such that it usually takes quite a long time, as many consultations are to be held with all parties that are supposed to be represented in the parliament. And probably, the Christian Democrats would not like to have the far-rightist party by their side in the government.
At the same time, Pim Fortuyn’s List is a sure number two at the elections; it received 17% of the vote. Thus, Fortuyn’s followers have been given 26 seats in the parliament and are now ahead of Wim Kok's Labor Party, which has ruled for the past eight years. The leftists received 16% of the vote and have been given 23 seats in the parliament.
The Dutch elections demonstrated once again, that far-right and far-left forces have become very popular in Western Europe over the past several years. Earlier, the balance between the rightists and the leftists was kept, but, nowadays, the rightists are enjoying greater advantages. Moreover, it is not traditional right-wing parties that are especially popular, but nationalist organizations that see immigrants as the cause of many problems in European states. It looks as though far-right ideas have completely won over European minds. In any case, the recent Dutch elections demonstrated this fact.
It would be quite natural to draw parallels with Russia in this situation. Traditional right-wing parties are not popular in Russia, although they have enough chances to be in the State Duma. At the same time, practically no chances to be in the Duma are left for far-rightist and nationalistic organizations in Russia. This is despite the fact that much is spoken now about threats coming from different nationalistic organizations. The popularity of nationalistic organizations in Russia is mostly of an everyday nature, and it is not yet at the stage when such organizations can win seats in the duma. Things are quite different in traditionally democratic Europe.
It is very likely that far-right organizations will triumphantly enter all European parliaments. Quite evidently, France is to come next (elections to the National Assembly are scheduled for June there). However, France’s majority election system is very intricate, unlike the Dutch proportional one, and, consequently, Le Pen’s followers may not get many seats in the parliament. Many years ago, when the majority election system was introduced in France in 1958, a barrier was made for Communists even despite the fact that they enjoyed great popularity at that time. Currently, there is only one representative of Le Pen’s party in the National Assembly.
This political season is going to be interesting not only in France, because elections to Germany’s Bundestag are also to be held this autumn. Then it will be possible to say to what extent right-wing and far-right forces are popular in Europe.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/05/16/41189.html
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969