At the turn of a new era
Ben Jennings - The Guardian, 26 December 2016. Letterpress The Guardian: "Ben Jennings on 2016, the year of unwanted presents".
The year 2016 will probably be a watershed in world history. The British referendum on the departure of Great Britain out of the Europe Union divided the British people deeply. Shortly after the Brexit-referendum, the outcome of the American presidential election brought world wide a shock: the controversial, political inexperienced Donald Trump won the presidential elections after an election campaign full of personal accusations towards his opponents, both in his own party and his opponent party, The Democrats. As a result, the inhabitants of the United States of America were brought on the brink of a civil war when the election results were made public. It made the (traditional) political elites in France, Germany, and The Netherlands shivering what the popular vote would or will do during the forthcoming elections.
Debates on the "why" behind the popular vote will rage down the years. In this corner of Hereditas Historiae only a small bit of remarkable voices are shared with those who missed something while it was in the main newstream or want to look closer afterwards. These voices don’t reflect the opinions of Irène Diependaal, but they are collected from the international press because the analyses are perhaps able to give some kind of explanation.
"Populism" is a word with a lot of meanings. Inside this selection in Hereditas Historiae a modern "Bagehot", a successor of the famous 19th-century journalist of the Economist, is explaining - in "Power to the people" - why it is interpreted in the international, liberal press as being dangerous. 'The essence of populism is the belief that society can be divided into two antagonistic classes - the people and the powerful. The people are presumed to have a single will. The powerful are presumed to be devious and corrupt: determined to feather their own nests and adept at using intermediary institutions (courts, media companies, political parties) to frustrate the people.' Irène Diependaal's attitude, trained by her research hitherto, is more historically based. She is selecting these articles because, as the modern Bagehot of The Economist also notes, the whole social, political and sometimes even the constitutional environment is changing.
In the section "A post truth world?" some journalist analyses of the dangers of the modern mass media are collected by Irène Diependaal. The why behind the liberal attitude of the main stream journalist titles and their working conventions are explained by authors of the titles themselves. The role historians are able to play: some expert explanations, exploring the reasons the historians didn't always did so, are quoted in the secton "In pursuit of truthful history stories".
Some more information - including a quotation from David Cameron's former communication director and some suggestions for further reading - is to be found in the section "cartoons". The selected cartoons, all from the Daily Telegraph, are telling a story of their own.
All formal papers by the British Government and British Parliament are published on their official websites. In the postscript folllowing the second article by Robert Andrews, "And we're off!", Irène Diependaal gives their official descriptions.
The Dutch general election, 16 March 2017:
Peter Schrank - The Economist, 8 September 2012
The conservative-liberal party (VVD) led by Mark Rutte became the biggest party, but the party lost nearly a fourth of its parliamentary seats. A protest-party led by Geert Wilders (PVV, "Party of Freedom") became the second political party in Parliament. The main topics of Wilders: against the Dutch membership of the European Union, against the Islam and the wish to close the borders for migrants. The VVD ("The people's party for Freedom and Democracy") doesn't want to govern with Geert Wilders, a former member of the VVD. The conservative liberals will need, therefore, at least 3 other political parties to form a coalition-government which is able to hold a majority in Parliament. Traditional, well-established political parties won the 2017-election in terms of total majority in one the chambers of Parliament, but their political views are wide-spread. A lot of them want to have an eurosceptic debate on the European Union, but don't want to leave the union. The Dutch political system is difficult to explain to non-Dutch because of the unique history of The Netherlands. The position of the Dutch Prime Minister is very distinct to the British and even the Belgian colleague as a result of the different constitutional histories and political conventions.
The turnout was 81,9% in March 2017. This is not a historical record; in 1986 the turnout was 85,82%. It is close to the turnout of the general election of 2006 (80,4%), which marked the rise of Geert Wilders as an independent politician and the creation of the PVV. Until 2006 Wilders was a Member of Parliament for the VVD, the conservative liberal party who won the 2017-election. The more progressive liberals, comparable to the British Liberal Democrats, are united in D66. D66 became the fourth party in 2017, directly after the christendemocrats (CDA). In the Dutch political landscape a party like the British Conservative Party doesn't exist. Traditionally, conservative people vote VVD, CDA or some of the small strict protestant parties. Only recently more political parties with conservative views, sometimes "issue-parties", did emerge and won - on small scale - some seats in Parliament. The 2017-election also brought success to GreenLeft (an amalgam of radicals and environmentalists) and a hard-line socialist party. The traditional Labour party, who once in post-war history held about a third of the seats in Parliament, lost three quarter of its seats. The 2017-election was only held for the "Second Chamber of Parliament". As a result of the complex Dutch constitutional history, the "First Chamber of Parliament" is indirectly chosen by the Councils of the "Provinces" ("provincies"; something like the British counties). The "United Chambers" are nowadays only gathering for ceremonial reasons in presence of the King (until April 2013 a Queen). A Secretary of State does have to defend his or her drafts of law therefore in two separate chambers of Parliament during two different timelines. So, in practice the Dutch government is also dependent on another parliamentary majority. The next elections for the councils of the "Provinces", and indirectly for the "First Chamber", are due to be hold in 2019.
The Netherlands were part of the co-founders of the European Economic Community, created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. During a referendum held on 1 June 2005 a majority of the Dutch people (61,5%) voted against the approval by the Dutch government to a treaty establishing a (written) constitution for Europe. The voters turnout was 63,3%; 0,76% of the votes was blank or not valid. The official polling committee received complaints about the question and the apparantly lack of possibility to vote blank.
In November 2017, after some very difficult negotations in order to form a new cabinet, a new government presented itself to the "Second Chamber of Parliament". This new government is based on a very narrow party majority: 76 out of 150 parliamentary seats (2nd Chamber). Mark Rutte is once again the "Minister-President". All ministers, part of this new government, took formally an oath to King Willem-Alexander on 26 October 2017 in Paleis Noordeinde.
To find out more about Irène Diependaal (Dutch citizen, academically trained in Modern History (PhD) and Public Administration/Politics (Master's degree) at the University of Amsterdam: please read the section "Irène Diependaal" and the introductions to the sections "Articles" and "Essay Reviews".
The Times, 21 March 2017
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