Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Men’s Emancipation by Aukje de Vries

The Dutch political landscape has changed considerably this week because of three surprising events. We just have had our local elections and in less than 3 months time there will be national elections.

The national elections became necessary because the cabinet fell due to the fact that the two largest parties in the cabinet: the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Labour Party (PvdA)
had had many disagreements over the past three years and disagreed again about keeping the Dutch army in Uruzgan. The PvdA had always said that 2010 was the final year of the Dutch presence in Uruzgan and they did not want to break that promise, whereas the CDA Minister of Foreign Affairs had informed NATO that the Dutch were willing to stay longer. This was unacceptable to the PvdA and they left the Coalition. Over the years it had become clear that the two leaders did not get along very well and had difficulties making compromises time and again.

The Board of the CDA immediately after the fall of the cabinet appointed the Prime Minister of the fallen cabinet as their number one for the coming elections. If the CDA would again become the largest party after the elections, the CDA could form the new cabinet and it would only be logical that this man would again become the Prime Minister.

There were no signs that the leader of the Labour Party intended to give up his position and his party wanted him to stay as well. If both of them remained their party’s leader, it would be virtually impossible for the CDA and the PvdA to collaborate in the next cabinet. Without their collaboration it might become inevitable that the anti-Islam party of Mr. Wilders would become part of the governing coalition, a situation which is likely to be very bad for our country, in the opinion of a majority including me.

The first surprise of the past week was that the Minister of Transport, one of the most promising members of the CDA and a possible successor of the Prime Minister, declared to leave politics. At age 36 he wanted to have more time for his private life and he said that he couldn’t bear the thought of finding himself alone and lonesome at the age of 45 or 50. He and his partner wanted to have more time to start a family.

The second surprise was of a different nature. The founder of the LibDems (D66) passed away at the age of 78. He was a visionary politician and an extremely talented speaker. He was someone who changed the Dutch political landscape. The present D66 leader told on TV he had had until quite recently frequent contacts with him. Alas, D66 and Dutch politics will have to do without him.

The third surprise was the most amazing. Wouter Bos, the leader of the Labour Party called a press conference and announced that he had decided to resign for family reasons. He has three very young children and he wanted to have more time to see them grow up. This came totally unexpected. I heard it while I was at a meeting with my older women’s group and we were shocked by the news. All of us had a very high opinion of Wouter Bos. But what was more surprising still was that he had found a man who was ready to succeed him as a party leader if the party would elect him. This man, Job Cohen, until that moment the burgomaster of Amsterdam, is held in high esteem all over the country (except by Mr. Wilders, who thinks he is too soft on migrants). Mr. Cohen has shown in Amsterdam that he can bring people together instead of driving them apart. I think this has been an incredibly wise move of Wouter Bos, by which he has done a great service to our country. The future of this divided country now looks better than it did before.

But isn’t it incredible that two top male politicians decided to give up their position for family reasons? Have we ever heard this before? Finally men’s emancipation?

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