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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Dutch press review
Christian Democrats Party leader Jan Peter Balkenende
The papers say the new leader will have trouble reconciling voters' divergent expectations
After the huge loss suffered by Labour and the gains of both the Christian Democrats and the Lijst Pim Fortuyn (Pim Fortuyn's List), the Dutch papers agree it will be difficult to form a coalition government.

The election results make a Christian Democrats (CDA), Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF) and Liberals (VVD) combination the most likely, the papers suggest - together they have 92 of the 150 seats in parliament.

the voters spoke with a 'split tongue'

NRC Handelsblad
Although it would be in principle also possible to form a CDA, PvdA (Labour) and GroenLinks (Green-Left) coalition with 76 of the 150 seats, it is likely that after its disastrous defeat, which halved its number of seats, the PvdA is to become an opposition party.

Most papers however are not optimistic that a CDA-VVD-LPF coalition will survive more than a year.

The protestant daily Trouw says the election results don't immediately point the way to a new cabinet.

Although it is clear that Christian Democrat leader Jan Peter Balkenende has been chosen to form a new government it won't be easy, it says, to form a cabinet with the necessary "inspiration and decisiveness".

The paper questions the ability of the Lijst Pim Fortuyn to show itself a stable coalition partner and to propose strong ministerial candidates.

The dramatic loss of the left has changed the political relations in the Netherlands for good

The party will first have to make clear who their leader is - and he or she will have to show to be in control of the many political newcomers in the party.

Conflicting messages

NRC Handelsblad says the voters spoke with a "split tongue" and this makes the political message unclear.

On the one hand the strong support for the CDA seems to indicate that the voters want change without experiments, but the unprecedented profit of the LPF gives a rather different signal.

The left leaning de Volkskrant says the heavy loss of the coalition parties and the huge gains of the Lijst Pim Fortuyn both point to a rejection of the established political order.

The dramatic loss of the left has changed the political relations in the Netherlands for good.

The CDA now sees itself given the daunting task to form a government with two disconcerted parties - pointing out that the LPF lacks political experience.

Cashing in

The paper says that creating a "better Netherlands" would require more direct democracy, strengthening of the public sector, the treatment of immigrants as full-grown citizens and renewed attention for environment policy, but it doubts that a centre-right government can do these issues justice.

The Algemeen Dagblad says the profit of the CDA was mainly cashing in on the discontent voiced by Fortuyn - with the inherent danger that the party will become a prisoner of the success of the murdered political leader.

De Telegraaf compares the election results to a Greek tragedy or a Shakespearean drama, except that this is the "breathtaking, bleak reality".

This is the breathtaking, bleak reality

De Telegraaf

Never before has a party experienced such a meteoric rise from nowhere - and without a clear programme, without a leader, with politically unknown candidates and with raised expectations which are difficult to realise.

The paper says the "arrogant" PvdA has paid the price for its bureaucratic approach and dreary image.

Its leader Ad Melkert was strong on content but lacked voter recognition and sympathy; he seemed too calculating to be sincere.

See also:

16 May 02 | Europe
Analysis: Dutch turn to the right
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