Category: Weitzel & company

Professor Bart Tromp Flies Red Herring Argument in Defense of the Establishment

7 January 2004

Professor Bart Tromp of Political Science at Leiden University and editor of the Yearbook for Democratic Socialism is a declared enemy of any change in the electoral system of the Netherlands which would in any way result in the direct election of mayors, the prime minister and both houses of Parliament, the Tweede Kamer (Lower Chamber) and the Senate. 

He would prefer to keep the system as it is, but if is to be changed or renewed, the change must not affect the electoral system of proportional representation and the political party system which this electoral system sustains.

What Professor Tromp most fears is the election of someone, such as, for example, the late Pim Fortuyn, to public office who does not belong to one of the existing parties and whose election would, in effect bypass existing parties. The professor makes a distinction then between ‘representative democracy’ and ‘plebiscite democracy’. The clearest example of a plebiscite was the one in France in 1804, which made Napoleon emperor.

This is not an election in any sense of the word.  When holding a plebiscite, an issue is put to the people. They must decide yes or no. There is no need for political parties. The people in the referendum are not being asked to make a choice between this or that politician.  It is an instrument used by an existing ruler or government to confirm or reject a certain proposition, e.g. should Napoleon become emperor or not?

The reference, then, by Professor Tromp to ‘plebiscite democracy’ is an attempt to obfuscate the issue, and the issue is the answer to the question what is wrong with the existing political system in the Netherlands. The answer to this question is relatively simple. There are many who are shut out of politics by the existing political structure. One such case is the late Pim Fortuyn and his followers.

What is there about the existing political structure which shuts out participation in the Dutch democratic process? We are told that the ‘essential problem’, with reference to the last two elections for the Second Chamber, is that Democrats’66 failed to take an ‘ideological’ stand on the issues leading up to the election. This enabled the party to decide on the basis of the outcome of the election which combination coalition would be most beneficial for its constituency.

Getting Bush Back Together with the Europeans will be Sensitive Work

There is general agreement in the editorials of two major Dutch newspapers that the best thing which happened during the visit of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer with President George W Bush on Tuesday was the announcement by Bush that more cooperation would be sought from the United Nations in Iraq.

The NRC Handelsblad makes two comments worth mentioning. In the first instance, the editorial on 4 September 2003 says: ‘ The United States has demonstrated they could easily defeat Iraq and Afghanistan with military power and remove both regimes.’  Now, however, the United States has need of its allies and of the United Nations in order to successfully round off their victory.’

Secondly, the actual implementation of a United Nations Security Council resolution which would involve the larger community in the Political, economic and military aftermath of Iraq, is a ‘basket of eggs’. The French and Germans will put tough conditions on any contribution and it is not good for the United Nations itself to become aligned directly with the military machine of the United States.  Nevertheless, says the NRC Handelsblad, ‘the best news in months is the return of the United Nations to the world stage.’

The leader of De Volkskrant to its editorial devoted to the Bush United Nations decision says that Bush has ’gone on his knees’. Mr. Bush has returned to the United Nations as the ‘asking’ and not as the ‘demanding’ country.  Unlike the beginning of the war, ‘France possesses, with its veto vote, the key to an international rescue operation by the United Nations’.

The editorial on 5 September 2003 cautions President Jacques Chirac of France to make the right choice.  ‘One certainly hopes that Chirac, who has a habit of overestimating himself, is able to correctly assess the situation.’ Whether or not it is Bush who makes concessions by the involvement of the United Nations, or Chirac or Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany, the most important of all, says the editorial ‘…is to ensure that no one will give the remnants of the Hussein regime or Muslim terrorists a new chance to win the war.’

Weitzel & Company