The Dutch Greens have shot down a proposal from the Labor Party to merge after next year’s election.
Labor’s Diederik Samsom, who faces a leadership challenge from his social affairs minister, Lodewijk Asscher, had suggested such a pact after his Green party counterpart, Jesse Klaver, called for a permanent coalition of left-wing parties.
Klaver said on Monday that the Greens, Labor, the far-left Socialist Party and the centrist liberal Democrats, who are polling at a combined 57 out of 150 seats, should partner in order to ensure the next government will reduce income inequality (already low by international standards), invest more in green energy and reverse liberalizations in health care and the labor market.
Neither the Socialists nor the liberal Democrats are interested.
The latter have supported health and labor market liberalizations and are closer on policy to the Christian Democrats and Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal party than they are to the Socialists.
The Socialists, for their part, accuse Labor of always flirting with the left during an election before going into coalition with the center-right. They seek to lure voters away from Labor by insisting that they are the only reliable leftists.
Losing voters to the center
It’s not working. Labor, which has ruled in coalition with Rutte since 2012, has gone down from thirty seats in the last election to twelve in the polls. But the Socialists are stuck at fifteen. Disaffected Labor voters are switching to the liberal Democrats and Greens instead, who are seen gaining five and nine seats, respectively.
Hence Samsom’s suggestion. He must have known the Greens would reject a merger. For the first time in their history, they might actually win more seats than Labor. But by turning down the proposal, on the very day their own leader called for left-wing unity, the Greens suddenly seem self-interested while Labor appears generous.