fragmented politics polarized society palpable outside dutch
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Fragmented politics, polarized society palpable outside Dutch

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Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu
The Hague - ArabToday

As Dutch voters are heading to polling stations to cast their ballots in a sunny Wednesday, Xinhua talked with some of them about their choices, and got a glimpse into the Netherlands with fragmented political landscape and polarized society.

By 1:45 p.m. local time, around 33 percent of the Dutch electorate had already voted, according to research agency Ipsos.

The turnout so far is higher than that of 2012, when 27 percent of the electorate had casted their votes by 1:45 p.m. Ultimately 74.6 percent voted in that year.

According to Ipsos, the turnout is comparable with the figures of 2006, when ultimately 80.4 percent of the electorate voted.

Two voters, a father and son both named Tarik of Moroccan descent, walked out of a polling station in Amsterdam East. They are owners of a restaurant nearby. "I am going to vote for stability," the father told Xinhua. "That is what the Netherlands needs. Mark Rutte has done a good job, for the economy and in terms of security."

Son Tarik made the same choice with his father with his ballot voted for VVD. "The economic crisis is over," he said, "With Rutte it will become better."

Prime Minister Rutte's rightist liberal party VVD has governed for the past four years and four months together with Labor PvdA. The VVD is favorite to become the biggest again, leading the polls before the anti-Islam and anti-Europe Party for Freedom PVV led by Geert Wilders.

And for the Tariks of Moroccan descent, they have more reasons to vote VVD.

"I don't want the PVV to become the biggest party," the son said. "There is a growing gap between the native Dutch and people of immigrant origin. That will become even bigger if Wilders gets power. The Netherlands is a democratic country, but I don't want the PVV to govern. I really hope for a victory of the VVD."

In December last year Wilders was found guilty for insulting Moroccans as a group and inciting discrimination. In his speech after the municipal elections campaign in March 2014 he had asked supporters whether they wanted "more or fewer" Moroccans, with the attendees cheering "fewer, fewer" as their answer.

Father Tarik was disgusted by these comments. "I respect everybody," he said. "But I hope the people of the PVV will stop saying stuff like that."

Despite the heated controversy sparked by Wilders' remarks, there are still plenty of Dutch citizens who support the anti-Islam, anti-migrant and anti-Europe words by the PVV leader.

24-year-old Donny Bonsink from The Hague is one of them. "I support Geert Wilders because he is a hero for me," he told Xinhua at the Binnenhof, where the parliament is based. "We have a lot of problems with Islam in Holland and Wilders says 'no more Islam in Holland."

Giving an example, Bonsink said "Gay people cannot walk on the streets hand in hand, because Muslims don't like it."

"There are a lot of problems in immigrant neighborhoods. They do not speak Dutch. I think Wilders is going to win big. We have seen it with Donald Trump, with the Brexit, I think he's going to win big tonight," the young guy sounds confident about Wilders.

Although Rutte's VVD and Wilders PVV ranked high among parties in polls before the elections, the leads are not big, showing a fragmented political landscape of the Netherlands.

Xinhua met another Tarik at the polling station at Amsterdam Central Station. Tarik Diamane, 43, is also of Moroccan descent liked the previous two Tariks.

Born in Utrecht, central Netherlands, and living Amsterdam now, Diamane said the VVD is out of the question.

"The VVD is a second PVV," Diamane told Xinhua. "In the past 15 years I have noticed that all parties have moved towards Wilders. All mainstream parties. The VVD moved to the extreme right and the PvdA (Labor) became the VVD of the 80ties and 90ties. I don't trust mainstream parties and mainstream media."

He cited the recent diplomatic row between the Netherlands and Turkey as an example, saying "The Dutch political parties let down the Turkish Dutch citizens with this artificially created row."

The Netherlands has been involved in a dispute with Turkey since Dutch officials decided to bar a plane carrying Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu from landing on Saturday, and so prevent him from attending a planned political rally in Rotterdam.

"I am Moroccan, but we feel each other's pain. One time the Moroccans are the scapegoats of the white establishment, the other time the Turks or the Antilleans," said Diamane.

Diamane voted for DENK, the immigrant party founded by Tunahan Kuzu and Selcuk Ozturk, two Turkish-Dutch members of the House of Representatives, who left the PvdA in November 2014. "As a new Dutchman I don't feel represented by these mainstream parties," Diamane explained, adding that "I only feel represented by this party."

Not only PVV or DENK voters are disappointed with the mainstream parties.

Joshua, an older white man with a hat, has just voted at the polling station in Amsterdam East. "I actually did not want to vote," he told Xinhua. "However, friends convinced me to do so. Since 1966 I have voted for D66 and I did it again, but I don't like the Dutch political system. I rather have eight years of Donald Trump or George Bush than a coalition. Here we get all kinds of promises and after the elections nothing gets reality."

With 28 parties running for the elections, and no one enjoying clear lead, the Dutch political landscape is more fragmented than ever. After the elections, a coalition with at least four parties is inevitable to get a majority of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.

But the vision is not welcome among the voters like Joshua. "If you put four different wines in one glass, it's undrinkable," said Joshua, adding that "It's the same with coalitions."

For 79-year-old Lily, the discontent with the established parties is from another disappointment. "We worked so hard to make this country so wealthy and now we are old, we get so little," she complained.

She shifted to the party of the elderly people 50Plus this time after years of voting for Labor. "I voted Labor for years, but Labor moved too far to the right. We need more attention for the elderly."

In Amsterdam East, two young girls voted for the Party for Animals, PvdD of leader Marianne Thieme, which got two seats in 2012 and is estimated to win between four and six seats in previous polls.

No matter what the Dutch voters are choosing, it is true that the Dutch politics are becoming more fragmented and the society is polarizing.

Discontent is increasing, and a change has become a demand for many voters.

A 30-year-old white male, who did not give his name, said after he casted his vote at The Hague Central Station "I am not happy at all...It is getting worse and worse. I notice it at my work and everywhere. We really need to change it. It has to stop."

Source: Xinhua

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fragmented politics polarized society palpable outside dutch fragmented politics polarized society palpable outside dutch

 



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