A difficult choice in the voting booth

In the Netherlands it’s time to make a difficult decision again: who to vote for in the national elections? It’s never an easy choice, with so many issues going on and so many parties to choose from. And the fact that this election was somewhat unexpected due to the government’s collapse a few months ago does not help either. And when you’re not too enthusiastic or informed about the machinations of politics, the dilemma seems complete.

But vote I will. It’s a right, but also a duty. So the choice is not if I’ll vote, but for whom. And that’s the problem. I’m Catholic (there’s a surprise) and a try to live according to Catholic social teachings, so that is why I try to see reflected in the party programs. And many parties (although some would hate to admit it) agree with what the Church has to say about many topics, but none do so for the full 100 %. In the Netherlands, a Catholic vote is not possible.

So the choice becomes negative. What party is the least divergent? Many Catholics vote left. PvdA, SP and GreenLeft (Labour, Socialists and Greens respectively) are popular. Others vote right: VVD (Liberals) mainly. And traditionally Catholics find a political home among the Christian Democrats of the CDA. And there is the PVV of madman Geert Wilders of course: a one-issue party that looks to be getting many votes out of spite. Will Catholics vote for him? Hard to say.

All these options can be defended (even the PVV, to an extent). But when it comes to combining certain specifically Christian issues (life and the role of religion in society, but also health care and education) and recent events in the media (the abuse issue and demonstrations about the ‘right’ to receive Communion), the choice becomes limited.

There it boils down to those parties who call themselves Christian: CDA, ChristenUnie (Christian Union) and SGP (Politically Reformed Party). CDA and ChristenUnie have been in government, while the SGP has always been a small opposition party, but nonetheless the most consistently Christian. They’re all chiefly or totally Protestant though, with the SGP being openly anti-Catholic.

Comparing the three, I conclude that the ChristenUnie is the best choice. Although solidly Protestant, they have been actively trying to involve Catholics in their party. Originally fully pro-life they did succumb to compromise, but that is the nature of Dutch politics. I don agree, but I understand. CDA is Christian in name only and SGP, as I said, is openly anti-Catholic. Despite the party’s qualities that is a major stumbling block for me.

What will we be getting? Perhaps a Liberal/Left combination? VVD, PvdA, GreenLeft? Maybe the PVV will get too involved (something I hope for: it may mean they´ll collapse within the year because they suddenly have responsibility). CDA will likely end up in opposition. D66 (possibly the most anti-Catholic choice we have) may turn out to be instrumental when it comes to forming a coalition, and perhaps, in a smaller way, the ChristenUnie will be as well. Chances of the end result being good are slim though. The major leftwing parties are openly antagonistic to the Church: the PvdA called for the Communion protests during Mass and GreenLeft  head Femke Halsema called the Church part of an axis of evil… Nice, that :$

But even the best options are not amazing. Dutch politics, like the country itself, is much secularised, and issues of faith, ethics and morality do not play a major part or are openly attacked or ridiculed. We will have to struggle on.

10 thoughts on “A difficult choice in the voting booth”

  1. ChristianUnion never ceased to go for an abolition of abortion and euthanasia. Now they’ve been in government and are a force to be reckoned with, they changed their approach to ‘brick by brick’.

    They’re sure nothing will ever change if they are blatantly pro-life and make that an issue over and over again. They will be excluded from government. So they try this step-by-step approach to make sure things won’t get any worse and possibly dialed back one small step at a time. Some people won’t call this a pro-life stance, but I think it is. It’s as far as you can get over here and make things change for the better.

    1. I know. It’s what we spoke about earlier. Compromise is something that is unavoidable in most political systems, and certainly in the Dutch one. As I said above, I’m not too happy with the CU’s compromise on abortion, but I do understand it. I hope the same goes for the CU politicians themselves.

      1. But what do you want as an alternative? Defending a certain ideology with 0% chance of putting it into practice? Making it 100% theoretical?

      2. Of course not. I’m all for compromising if that is the best way to get things done. But that does not mean I have to like it.

  2. Have to agree with Inge on this point. The only way that you can change things in the country are by doing it slowly, compromise…which doesn’t mean you are not pro-life, just that you try it on a different (and probably more effective) way than to say absolutely no, even though theoretically you would like to say just that.

    1. And that’s exactly what I’m saying. We agree. I don’t like that political parties need to compromise (especially on these issues), but that does not mean that I don’t understand they sometimes have to.

      1. Not liking the fact that political parties do politics (which means to compromise) is almost the same as not liking that water is wet.

        Sure you are free to not like it. But I don’t see the point of having issues with obvious things.

      2. There is no issue, merely the observation that I don’t like something. Seriously, is that worth such a discussion?

  3. Maybe not, but I’m just perplexed that someone doesn’t agree with things which cannot possibly change and are so according to their nature. I can understand that people do care or don’t care.

    It just baffles my mind, that’s all.

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