Dutch government collapses


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The Dutch government has collapsed over disagreements within the governing coalition on extending troop deployments in Afghanistan.
After marathon talks, Christian Democratic Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced that the Labour Party was quitting the government.
Mr Balkenende has been considering a Nato request for Dutch forces to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2010.
But Labour, the second-largest coalition party, has opposed the move.
Just under 2,000 Dutch service personnel have been serving in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan since 2006, with 21 killed.
Their deployment has already been extended once.

The troops should have returned home in 2008, but they stayed on because no other Nato nation offered replacements.
The commitment is now due to end in August 2010.
The Dutch parliament voted in October 2009 that it must definitely stop by then, although the government has yet to endorse that vote.
Mr Balkenende's centre-right Christian Democrats wanted to agree to Nato's request to extend the Dutch presence in Afghanistan.
But this was bitterly opposed by the Dutch Labour Party.
The finance minister and leader of the Labour Party, Wouter Bos, demanded an immediate ruling from Mr Balkenende.
When they failed to reach a compromise, Labour said it was pulling out of the coalition.
Nato priority
Mr Balkenende said he would offer the cabinet's resignation to the Dutch Queen Beatrix later on Saturday following the collapse of the government.

It was announced after a 16-hour cabinet meeting which ran into the early hours of Saturday morning.
The prime minister said there was no common ground between the parties.
"Where there is no trust, it is difficult to work together. There is no good path to allow this cabinet to go further," he said.

The Defence Ministry says the future of the Dutch mission in Afghanistan depends on the new government.
But a new government may prove difficult to establish.
Opinion polls suggest that a handful of parties may be needed to form a coalition.
They also suggest the right-wing opposition Freedom Party, which has called for an end to the Afghan mission, could be the big winner in the general election.

BBC News - Dutch cabinet collapses in dispute over Afghanistan
As much as foreign newspapers make it seem like the Afghan-mandate is the reason for the crisis, there is far more to it.
Early this month there was a huge fight over the Iraq-commission, which came up with very tough conclusions about the legal validity of going to war and about the performance of prime minister Balkenende during the decisionmaking process. For Labour this commission was very imporant and they were very upset when Balkenende questioned some of its findings. They made a whole fuss about it and managed to get Balkenende to make a new statement, fully validating the outcome of the commission.

However, apparently that was not enough to avert a new crisis over Uruzgan. This is not about whether or not it's smart to stay in Afghanistan or just to abandon the mission, cause not a single argument has been used by Labour to validate its stance. They say it's a matter of principle and want to stay true to their promise two years ago of not renewing the mission.

In essence this is about the upcoming local elections and the need for Labour (facing a terrible defeat) to stand for its principles and let the people know they don't give in to everything the Christian-Democrats demand of them. What followed was a rather wreckless move, that was bound to blow up the government.

As much as this is generally considered to be a victory for Labour (the Uruzgan-mission is not very popular), I believe that this is going to backfire on them on the long run. People may be opposed to the mission, or find it impossible to be a success.. I'm not sure they are actually in favour of abandoning our allies & the afghan people. Whoever keeps us there isn't gonna be popular, and whoever gets us out will not be popular either.

I also doubt this is going to change people's attitude towards the party. It was already seen as opportunistic.. and this symbolic opposition against Uruzgan (not based on any arguments) isn't going to change that. It rather shows Labour does anything to get votes. In the process they may undermine their only positive trait in comparison with the extreme opposition-parties, that of being responsible when it comes to decisionmaking.

Next elections are going to be a mess. CDA likely to win, Wilders and anti-Wilders party D'66 struggling for second place. Most likely coalition will be center-right (CDA, D'66, VVD? (liberals)).


Registered Member
I'm not sure what you base your predictions are based on, but I really hope we will avoid another center-right government. Besides, it is downright embarrassing that we allow our government to be a-secular.

We need to pull out of NATO, we should have done so a long time ago.


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I'm not sure what you base your predictions are based on, but I really hope we will avoid another center-right government.
I see little opportunity for anything else. The PvdA isn't likely going to be included in a new coalition with CDA.. and I doubt they are interested in forming one with the more extreme left of SP.

We need to pull out of NATO, we should have done so a long time ago.
It's the only way we can have a say in international politics I'm afraid.


Registered Member
But look at the cost. And we don't have any say on the international stage, Balkenende made sure of that. We are pushovers, we are the bitch of the USA, the EU and frightful muslim immigrants. Our government doesn't seem to be doing anything except grow more to the right and grow less steadfast in actual actions. I'm not saying the SP is in itself more steadfast, but at least the contrast will make for some healthy debate and perhaps steer our government into a more turbulent time - where something might actually happen for us, the Dutch.

And I don't mean to be rude, but Harry Potter perfectly fits the image we have when it comes to our position in international politics.


Registered Member
Even though the disagreement over Afghanistan has not been the true reason for the failure of this government, I think it will have international implications: For the first time, a Western government has failed over Afghanistan and the entire mission seems increasingly unpopular and risky.

Maybe that puts pressure on other European governments, especially the left-leaning parties in other countries. They can no longer claim the argument "we all are in it, so we cannot abandon our allies". Obviously, that's no longer valid.

The opposition Social Democrats (SPD) in Germany have already taken a critical stance towards the Afghanistan mission (which they can easily afford, being in the opposition), and that puts pressure on the center-right government.

So how long will European governments still be able to maintain their support for the mission?


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I really honestly do feel bad about laughing at this whole situation, because it basically proves everything I thought about international politics and especially the north atlantic terrorist organization to be true. Back to all this in a second though...

It's the only way we can have a say in international politics I'm afraid.
I have to disagree with this completely. "Organizations" like NATO are only powerful because of the countries that are in them. There have been many legitimate cases made that NATO has no reason for existing anymore and has become a force used by western powers to protect their economic hegemony over the World. If enough rich, industrialized, EU/Western countries start to question NATO it may cease to become a status quo at all. It may be a long process and people night not hop on board right away, but then how does any change happen.

Rant aside, I guess my question/point is, is the benefit that you get by staying in NATO better than what you have to sacrifice for it? I highly doubt it is. I think the balance of power in the international community is in the process of changing in a big way, and I think organizations like these (that are clearly partisan and have a questionable human rights record) will not stand much longer. Its not 1962, its 2010. Afganistan has nothing to do with communism or the Soviet Union, therefore NATO should have nothing to do with it, and neither, frankly, should the Dutch, because what have you got to gain from it.