News The Center Can Hold

Mainstream Parties Win Dutch Elections, Catalans to Swear In President

Extremists lose in the Netherlands. The civil war in America’s Democratic Party is exaggerated.

Mark Rutte
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte listens to a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, January 20, 2016 (European Parliament)

The far-right Freedom Party and the far-left Socialists underperformed in municipal elections in the Netherlands on Wednesday.

The ruling liberals and Christian Democrats shared first place. Both got 13 percent support.

Local parties took 33 percent of the vote, up from 28 percent four years ago.

The Greens gained at the expense of Labor and the liberal Democrats, especially in the major cities. Although they are still counting the votes in Amsterdam, the Greens are expected to overtake the liberal Democrats as the largest party there.

Cosmopolitan, left-leaning voters probably switched because they are disappointed the liberal Democrats went into government with three right-wing parties.

The outcome is nevertheless unlikely to destabilize Mark Rutte’s coalition, which includes the small Christian Union.

Catalans to swear in new president

Catalonia may finally get a new president. Jordi Sànchez, the number two lawmaker in the largest independence party, has resigned from parliament in order to allow Jordi Turull to stand.

Giving up his seat was also a condition for Sànchez’ bail. He is facing a trial for his role in the region’s attempt to break away from Spain.

So is the leader of his party, Carles Puigdemont, who cannot be reinstated as president from self-imposed exile in Belgium.

The question now is if Turull will be acceptable to the other two separatist parties. A vote has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Lamb’s a victory for party politics

Jonathan Rauch calls Conor Lamb’s recent Democratic victory in a Republican-leaning district of Pennsylvania a “win for party politics”.

Lambs, a former Marine and prosecutor, was chosen not by voters but by party elites.

Party insiders, argue Rauch, often have a better sense of which candidates are electable than primary voters, who tend to prioritize ideological purity, parochial interests or visceral protest.

Candidate selection by voters may seem more democratic, but it is often less representative, he points out. Turnout in primaries is low. That gives fanatics and organized interests an advantage.

No Democratic civil war

Political scientist David A. Hopkins doesn’t believe there will be a “Democratic civil war” or even a “Democratic Tea Party”.

The online left, he writes, is not representative of the Democratic Party:

Visitors to local Democratic caucus or committee meetings in most parts of America will find that the public employees, union officials, trial lawyers, nonprofit association administrators and African-American church ladies who actually constitute the party’s activist backbone are, by and large, neither preoccupied with ideological purity nor in a state of rebellion against its current leadership.

Don’t focus on Pelosi

Jonathan Bernstein advises Democrats not to seek Nancy Pelosi’s ouster as House leader but rather her deputy’s, Steny Hoyer. That way, he suggests, Democrats can have their fight over their future leader without having to commit to someone untested right away.