Netherlands

Last week, the new king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, declared that the era of the welfare state was over and that the Netherlands are moving towards a ‘participation society’. This is a reflection of the crisis of capitalism, where all the gains of the past will be destroyed, unless the capitalist system is overthrown.

On April 30th, the Netherlands celebrated Queensday as usual. However, this time the ceremony was different, as it was also the day Queen Beatrix abdicated and her son Willem Alexander was inaugurated as the first King of the Netherlands since 1890.

Last Wednesday (September 12) the Dutch parliamentary elections were held. The end result was polarisation between the right-wing Liberals and the Labour Party. The left-reformist Socialist Party at one stage seemed to be positioned to come first in the polls, but eventually lost its gains to Labour.

The Dutch comrades of Vonk have now published the first edition of their paper in May. This is a big step forward for the IMT in the Netherlands.
The comrades are planning to release at least 4 papers a year. Click on the picture if you are interested in a subscription, or for further information.

The Dutch government has collapsed. After seven weeks of discussing a new austerity package, rightwing populist Wilders decided to stop supporting Rutte’s coalition of Christian Democrats and rightwing Liberals. Centre parties in parliament now have ‘saved the day’ and helped to implement a smaller package of austerity cuts before the September general elections.

At the beginning of February we reported on the militant strike of the cleaners in the Netherlands. Now, after a long drawn out battle, they have won most of their demands, setting a good precedent for the rest of the Dutch labour movement.

In the Netherlands there is a very militant cleaners’ strike that has been going on for more than a month. This is not the first time; in 2010 they were out on strike for nine weeks, the longest strike in the Netherlands since the 1930s. There are lessons in this for the whole labour movement.

About 15,000 Dutch students demonstrated last Friday in The Hague against the cuts in higher education. This was the first big protest against Mark Rutte’s new right-wing government, and the biggest student demonstration since 1988.

The Netherlands has been further destabilised by the impact of the world crisis of capitalism. An already fragmented political set up saw even more fragmentation in last week’s elections. There is huge volatility in Dutch society, as the major parties bend to the needs of capital. Whatever coalition is formed will be called on to implement harsh cuts. The Dutch working class will not allow their hard fought for gains to be taken away without a fight.

The Dutch coalition has fallen under the growing pressure of the economic crisis. What sparked it off was pressure from NATO to extend the stay of Dutch troops in Afghanistan, but it clearly highlights the growing class divide in Dutch society.

The government of the Netherlands recently granted the US military use of its islands in the Caribbean, with the excuse that this is to help in the “war against drugs”. In reality, this is a direct threat to the Chavez government in Venezuela.

We are proud to announce the International Marxist Tendency’s weblog for the Netherlands: Vonk. Vonk will publish articles in the Dutch language, offering a Marxist analysis about the situation in the Netherlands.

The situation in the Netherlands has dramatically changed in the recent period. From the period of “consensus” politics we now have a very polarised situation, with an aggressive ruling class facing a growingly militant working class. In these conditions the Socialist Party has emerged as a sizeable force to the left of the Labour Party.