After a moment of relief, forming a government is the next step on the agenda in the Netherlands. This will be no easy task for Prime Minister Mark Rutte's conservative-liberal VVD party. The social democratic PvdA, its coalition partner in the last government, has lost around three-quarters of its seats - something many analysts see as a symptomatic defeat. This means the VVD must choose at least three partners. For some it is already clear that the Greens must be included in the coalition.
GroenLinks belongs in government
The Groenlinks party was the surprise big winner of Wednesday's election, garnering 8.9 percent of the vote and seeing its number of seats in parliament rise from four to fourteen. Prime Minister Rutte must sound out the possibility of forming a joint government with this party, De Volkskrant demands:
“If they want to do justice to the election results the VVD and the CDA [the Christian Democrats, who were the third strongest party] can't get around including GroenLinks, which chalked up a record performance with its clear anti-populist stance, in the government. But how can GroenLinks' environmental agenda and demands for levelled incomes be reconciled with the policies of the VVD and CDA? … Rutte must realise that not just the sentiments of the PVV voters but also the growing environmental awareness of many citizens deserves a response. … In order to form a government successfully, Rutte must reconnect with the green right-wing liberal he used to be when he first became leader of the VVD.”
Social democrats lose out in coalitions
The Dutch social democrats' slump is further proof of the profound crisis in which the workers' parties find themselves, Expressen comments:
“Social democratic parties in Europe have lost a third of their voters since 2008 and are currently in a worse position than they have been for 70 years. A major reason for this is the financial crisis and the resulting austerity policy which many social democratic governments were forced to pursue. … The proportion of those who see themselves as members of the working class has decreased, the right-wing parties want a welfare state, and party loyalty is on the wane. … In the Netherlands we see how the voters have punished the social democrats for entering a grand coalition with the conservative VVD after the last elections. This demonstrates that coalitions between left- and right-wing parties are not a sure-fire alternative to successes on the part of right-wing populists.”