Just a few hours ago my government fell; it collapsed over disagreements on extending troop deployments in Afghanistan. Yes, a Dutch government fell yet again.
- June 2006: the government falls after one of the governing parties withdrew its support for the coalition in the aftermath of the upheaval about the asylum procedure of Ayaan Hirsi Ali (instigated by the Dutch immigration minister Verdonk);
- October 2002: the government falls after two ministers from one of the ruling parties (the LPF, founded by the maverick right-winger Pim Fortuyn) quit over a long-running personal feud. Their departure was not enough to salvage the divided three-party coalition;
- April 2002: the government falls after a report on the 1995 fall of Srebrenica held political leaders partly responsible for failing to protect Muslims in a UN safe 'haven' in Bosnia;
- May 1999: the government falls after the loss, in the upper house of Parliament, of a bill implementing constitutional changes (D66 had proposed that voters should be able to veto legislation through referendums).
Why? Is the Dutch many-party system conducive to government collapse? Most of the Dutch governments have consisted of at least 3 parties; and more parties means more possible diads for diasagreement.
But it is the Netherlands!? One could argue that - in contrast to many developing countries - we do not face issues that are important enough for a government to collapse. Or is this exactly it? That is, the Netherlands is so stable and it's institutions next to our elected executive are so well established that the collapse of the government does not lead to an increase of our debt's interest rate, a drop in GDP, or the outbreak of civil war. In other words the cost of a government collapse in the Netherlands is low. Consequently, a government collapse is therefore more likely to occur in the Netherlands. Who will say. For now I am just afraid for the election to come with right-wing Geert Wilders (unfortunately) going strong.