Well, lets face it – our choices all suck. There are several websites in the Netherlands that allow you to match your choices with a political party, of which none of the matches are larger than 50% and the questions are framed in such a way that you end up answering in a manner diametrically opposed to your wishes unless you read the question very carefully.
An advantage of the Dutch political system is that the government rules by coalition, so that means there are quite a few viable political parties. The downside to this is that if you want to research all of them, you have to spend quite some time looking through poorly designed websites for the party programmes which are often hidden away somewhere in a PDF download.
Now there are a few things freaking me out in the West at the moment, so I’ve chosen two main points to look at in the party I’m going to be voting for:
Now this one winds me up no end – you peel away the veneer of the word “security” and you find a cesspit of privacy invasion and personal control. ID Cards, camera’s, unwarranted phone and internet tapping, incarceration without due process, legal systems that ignore the “innocent untill proven guilty” idea, centralised databases, etc etc etc. This reminds me of Nazi Germany and what really gets me is that almost every political party is for more “security”. As a matter of fact, the reason that the Netherlands was the greatest exporter of Jews during WWII was because it had the best personal registration system in the world at the time. People say it won’t happen again – but no one can give me that garauntee. The world changes, and we’re picking on all sorts of people here – Moroccans, Antilleans and with that kind of data at a politicians disposal, who says he won’t use it to blackmail any people opposing him / her?
The argument is trotted out that people can use these tools to catch paedofiles – after all, who wouldn’t be against harming our little children?! But all criminals are only caught after due and diligent investigation – which means that getting permission from a judge after considering the merits of the case should be a part of the investigation. Randomly spying on people without their consent doesn’t solve paedofelia – investigation through competent and thourogh policing does.
Then we get the “if you’re not doing anything wrong, what have you go to fear?” argument. Well, it’s my life, and I want it private. If I didn’t do anything wrong, why do you have to spy on me? And would you have a government camera put up in your bedroom over your bed if you accept that argument?
There is no excuse for random invasions of privacy.
We’re living in a much more unstable world than during the Cold War and we need to adapt to it. Now the Netherlands is doing a very good job in this respect – a professional, competent armed forces, restructured around mobility and operations other than war (OOTW), well versed in jointness (working with armed forces from other countries) and technologically advanced. We are doing a good job of protecting our foreign and local interests and it’s sheer naivite to expect that because it’s going well now we can stop investing in our armed forces. We need to keep changing to adapt to different global threats, as we do face them in the whole scale, from all out war, to undefined threats such as “terrorism” as well as disaster relief. For that we need new and diverse equipment, as well as manpower and training. We also need logistical support, transportation, and big guns to keep us safe. If we want to have a say in international politics, we need a big stick to help apply our say – even if it is by not using the stick (allthough we are using it now and heavily). We can’t expect the international community to do our dirty work for us and expect to feed our consumptive economy (which is one of the largest in the world) of the backs of our allies.
The Netherlands is a partner in an ill conceived second rate fighter programme called JSF. We should be investing in serious military hardware – F-22, Eurofighter, Gripen, Rafale, whatever gives us our best protection. Not another F-16 which won’t be wanted in coalitions untill it has had a mid life update!
So where does this leave me? Currently the only party that acknowledges my right to personal freedom and privacy is D66. The rest (traditionally I vote VVD) are all too intent in setting up a police state. Unfortunately D66 thinks we can have this liberty without protection, which I consider a bit stupid. Still, considering that D66 will never garner enough votes to actually become a dominant party in the coalition government, I’ll vote for them in the hope that the big parties (CDA, VVD, PvdA) will get the right message – Leave me to live my life the way I want to!