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Netherlands

Yearbook 1998

Netherlands. On May 6, the people of the Netherlands went to parliamentary elections, i.e. elections to Parliament's second chamber. According to Countryaah, the mass media described the election movement as fairly lukewarm. The only truly partisan issue that stirred up the sentiment was immigration policy. In relation to its population size, the Netherlands has received more refugees than the other European countries, and the leader of the right-wing Liberal Party VVD (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie) Frits Bolkstein warned that the country would be flooded by refugees if they did not immediately begin to reduce immigration. Opinion polls indicated that 60% of voters supported the VVD's line.

1998 Netherlands

However, the election was a success for the PvdA, the largest party in the sitting coalition government with the party leader and Prime Minister Wim Kok in the lead. PvdA increased from 37 to 45 of the second chamber's 150 seats. The VVD also won success and increased from 31 to 38 places. The losers became the third coalition party, the Liberal Democrats D66 (Democrat 66), which fell from 24 to 14 seats. Nevertheless, the broad coalition, which occupied 97 of the chamber's seats, could remain. Voter turnout decreased from just over 78 to 73% compared to the 1994 elections.

On July 17, the three coalition parties agreed on a four-year savings plan, aimed primarily at reducing the budget deficit and lowering taxes. However, Prime Minister Kok emphasized that he would increase the pressure on the government to emphasize more social programs in the future.

The final government formation took almost three months of negotiations between the parties in the coalition. On Monday, August 3, the new government could be presented and Wim Kok sworn in by Queen Beatrix as Prime Minister for a new four-year term. Of the 15 ministerial posts, the PvdA and the VVD received six each, while D66 lost a ministerial post due to the election result and had to settle for three.

During the year, the Netherlands was shaken by several pedophile revelations. Police investigated extensive cooperation between pedophile powers in the Netherlands and Belgium; seized pictures and movies could exacerbate the abuse of hundreds of children. In addition, a senior official at the Justice Department was charged with possession of child pornography. According to media reports, he had thousands of gross child pornographic images in his computers at his workplace and at home. He must also have exchanged pictures with other officials in the ministry.

Contemporary Dutch History

Dutch contemporary history is the story from the 1990s to the present. The Netherlands was characterized by economic crisis and unemployment in the 1990s. In the 2000s, immigration and asylum policies have created political conflicts. The Netherlands is traditionally a liberal society, which has allowed prostitution (1993), active euthanasia (2001) and same-sex marriage (2001), and also decriminalized cannabis.

Economic policy

The Netherlands was hit hard by the economic crisis that began in the mid-1970s. Rudolph Lubbers ' Government of Christian Democrats (CDA) implemented a tough economic tightening policy to bring down the state budget deficit and to control rising inflation and unemployment. Inflation fell in the 1990s, but unemployment rose to 9.3 percent in 1995, a figure that was nevertheless lower than in the worst crisis years of the 1980s.

In the latter half of the 1990s, the Netherlands pursued a strict economic policy to adapt to the requirements for joining the European Monetary Union, including cuts in social security schemes and reductions in military service. The Netherlands introduced the euro as a currency unit in 2002.

Right-wing populism and political murder

Lubbers, who had been prime minister since 1982, remained in power until 1994, thus becoming the longest reigning prime minister of the 20th century. After the 1994 elections, Social Democrat Wim Kok took over the government in a coalition of the Labor Party (PvdA), the VVD and the center-left party D 66. Thus, the Christian Democrats stood outside the government for the first time since 1917.

The VVD has developed in a right- populist direction and became the largest party in the Dutch elections in 1995. At the 1998 parliamentary elections, the Social Democrats again became the largest party, and the government coalition continued, even after a crackdown the following year.

Nine days before the May 2002 parliamentary elections, the country was shaken by the first political murder of modern times. Pim Fortuyn, the founder of the right-wing populist, immigrant skeptic who bore his own name, was shot down on the way out of a radio interview in the city of Hilversum. An extreme animal protection activist was convicted of the wrongdoing. In his first election, Pim Fortuyn's List (LPF) became the second largest party of the National Assembly after the decided winner Christian Democrats. The two parties now formed coalition government together with the VVD, with Jan Peter Balkenende(CDA) as prime minister and a program that announced a right turn of policy. One month before the election, Wim Kok's workers' party-led government had sought leave, based on a critical report on a former Dutch UN mission.

However, the new coalition burst after 87 days, as a result of internal conflict between inexperienced LPF politicians, a struggle that also contributed to the outpouring of sympathy after the killing. After a new election in January 2003 and a few months of political turbulence, Balkenende was able to reign with a center / right coalition, without a significantly weakened LPF.

The Labor Party brought back voters from the LPF and now became the second largest party. The party strongly criticized the government for its strong contribution to the US-led Iraq war. The new government called for comprehensive austerity and a crisis settlement with the social partners, as cures for rising budget deficits and unemployment, and for economic growth that had stalled and brought the Netherlands to the bottom among the euro countries. The interplay with the Pim Fortuyn list, by the way, also seemed to have contributed to tightening also in immigration and criminal policy and when it came to health care reform.

Battle for asylum policy

In 2004, the left-wing filmmaker and social debater Theo van Gogh was stabbed and killed on an open street in Amsterdam. This second political killing was linked to one of his controversial films, " Submission, " about women's oppression in Muslim communities. The killer was linked to an Islamist terrorist network, and the affair triggered a wave of violence and vandalism, where, among other things, about 20 mosques and churches were set on fire. Immigration policy became a topic of controversy to a different degree than before.

The debate over the film "Submission" got a new turn when the screenwriter, Somali-born Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali acknowledged that in her time she had given incorrect information to obtain asylum in the Netherlands. The right-wing Democrats '66 demanded the resignation of the Justice Minister, and resigned from the government when the claim was rejected. This formed the prelude to a government crisis in the summer of 2006 with subsequent new elections in November. The outcome of the elections set a bar for majority constellations according to traditional pattern, and it was not until February 2007 that Christian Democrat Jan Peter Balkenende could form a new government, a tripartite coalition that also included the social democrats.

There was now a softening of the asylum policy, with an immediate decision to grant a residence permit to 30,000 people who had previously been rejected. The regulations were far from being brought back as it was before 2002 and the killing of immigration opponent Pim Fortuyn. This brought wind in the sails of the right-wing, immigration-critical Freedom Party, which was formed before the 2006 election and gained nine seats in parliament. Party leader Geert Wilders later came to the spotlight with his demand to ban the Qur'an in the Netherlands, and with the strongly Islamic-critical film Fitna (Arabic: strife), a film that sparked protests in a number of Muslim countries and criticism at the top of the EU.. Wilders was also brought to trial, accused of inciting hatred against Muslims. On the opposite wing, the Socialist Party, similar to the Norwegian SV, had even stronger progress; Twenty-five mandates in the 2006 elections meant a threefold and the party blows the Social Democrats by the neck.

In 2010, Mark Rutte (VVD) took over as prime minister, first as head of the Rutte I coalition government (VVD and CDA), then for Rutte II (VVD and PvdA) from 2012.

Dutch society

Both 1994 and 1995, the Netherlands was severely affected by the flood in the lower Rhine. More than 250,000 people were evacuated, and there was a time danger for the river banks to burst. About half the Netherlands is lower than the sea, and many of the dikes are more than 100 years old. In the political wash after the flood, criticism was raised for failure to maintain the dikes, and the National Assembly granted extra grants for repairs.

The Netherlands has a tradition as a liberal society. One consequence of this was the legalization of prostitution in 1993. In contrast, in 1995, a liberalization of the country's liberal drug policy was carried out in an attempt to combat the professional drug trade. In the same year, a liberal law on mercy killing was passed after a debate that attracted international attention, and in 2001 the Netherlands - as the first country in the world - passed a law that, under certain conditions, allows active euthanasia. The law that equals gay and heterosexual marriage also came into force in 2001. At the beginning of the century, the trade in cannabis, even in larger quantities, decriminalized. Cannabis was also legalized as a prescription drug for a variety of chronic diseases; the penal code was thus concentrated on heavier narcotic drugs.

Foreign Policy

A referendum on the EU constitutional treaty in 2005 surprisingly yielded a no-majority of 62 percent. One explanation was that voters in one of the EU's founding nations protested to the political elite that they had only now been asked for advice on the Union's development. Another explanation was that the vote, among other things, also reflected a growing xenophobia and sharp contradictions between ethnic Dutch and immigrants, in the traditionally open Dutch society.

After Surinam became independent in 1975, only the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are left of the overseas territories. In referendums to the Antilles in 1993 and 1994, a large majority voted to keep the five islands as a unit, as well as to maintain the current status as part of the Netherlands. However, a new referendum in 2005 revealed divisions between the various sections, and an agreement from the same year proposed a reform to dissolve the Netherlands Antilles federation; two of the five areas (Curaçao and Sint Maarten) will be Dutch autonomous areas (such as Aruba), the other three (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba) is directly linked to the Netherlands.

 

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