In the wake of the Dutch election yesterday, let’s review coalition math and possibilities.

The above chart from Dutch Voters Crush Hopes of Populist Wilders.

For starters, that headline is a bit over the top. Support for Rutte picked up when he adopted a much stricter stance towards immigration.

The election represented a huge shift to the Right. In Rutte Victorious in Netherlands Election: Wrong Kind of Populism? Who Really Won? I noted that Geert Wilders got nearly everything he wanted.

Today it is confirmed Wilders is the largest opposition party, the best he could have hoped for. Rutte picked up votes from Wilders when he adopted a much tougher stance towards immigration.

Clear Signal

German chancellor Angela Merkel called the result “a good day for democracy” and added that she “was very happy that a high turnout led to a very pro-European result, a clear signal”.

Indeed, there was a clear signal. Voters are fed up with immigration. The Left got trounced.

“VVD is PVV-Lite”

The D66 leader has some interesting things to say about Rutte.

Alexander Pechtold, D66’s leader. “We are getting them from all over the spectrum,” he said in The Hague. “I am aiming at the real liberal voters.” Mr. Pechtold added it was “out of the question” that Mr. Wilders could be in government, suggesting instead that a moderate coalition will emerge after months of talks involving centrist, leftwing and centre-right parties. He is scathing about Mark Rutte, the prime minister who leads the Netherlands’ current coalition government and whose People’s party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is vying wit. Mr. Wilders’ PVV to be the largest party after the March 15 poll. The VVD is now “PVV-lite”, said Mr Pechtold.

Investigating the Coalition Math

It takes 76 to form a coalition. VVD + CDA + D66 = 71.

The Financial Times says “The centre-right CDA, which benefited from a late surge in support, spurred by populist policies such as making children sing the national anthem in schools, came third with 19 seats and will probably play a crucial role in any coalition.”

Let’s assume for a moment that the pro-EU D66 party can coexist quite nicely with the CDA, a party that wants to make school kids sing the national anthem.

Let’s also assume that D66, a party that accuses Rute of being “Wilders-Lite”, is indeed willing to be part of a grand coalition with VVD and CDA.

Another party is still needed to form that coalition!

You can rule out Wilders’ PVV. You can also rule out PvdA (labour) as it got hammered precisely because it went along with Rutte in the last coalition.

So Who Will It Be? 

  • CU is the Christian Union. The CU holds socially conservative positions on issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia. It is Eurosceptic while maintaining progressive stances on economic, immigration and environmental issues.
  • SP is the Socialist party. SP is in opposition against the Second Rutte cabinet. Is that about to change?
  • GL is the GroenLinks (green) party. GroenLinks describes itself as “green”, “social” and “tolerant”

Will a eurosceptic CU party be willing to enter the coalition?

If so, and all the other parties are willing to let CU in, that hits the magic 76 on the nose. If not, the last remaining hope for a coalition is GL.

If indeed there is an agreement to form a “grand coalition” don’t expect it to be stable.

Merkel calls this mess a “clear signal”.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock