The year of truth

1 January 2009

The year of truth

by Harry van Bommel

2009 will be the year of truth.

In January we will see whether the government is prepared to condemn Israel’s excessive violence. If not, and the violence continues, we will recall Parliament from its recess in order to force the government to change its stance.

In February the Senate will put a number of supplementary questions to the government concerning the Netherlands’ support for the war against Iraq. Should the answers again prove unsatisfactory, the Senate will establish a parliamentary enquiry. This will be a first for the history of our country and the beginning of the end for Premier Jan Peter Balkenende.

In March we will see whether the temporary reduction in working hours offered by industry has been sufficient, or whether despite it we are in for mass redundancies. And at the same time whether Labour Party leader and Finance Minister Wouter Bos remains the hero of the hour.

In April NATO celebrates its sixtieth anniversary and will be considering its future. We need to make sure that we are fully involved in this discussion. NATO must no longer be willing to be the instrument of America’s intervention plans.

In May Serbia will, so it is supposed, apply to join the European Union. In time this will no doubt come to fruition. But, more than has been done in the past, we must take a real look at whether the country is ready. Recent accessions have been approached too rashly.

In June there will be elections for the European Parliament. The SP will make gains, from two seats to at least three and possibly four, that I can guarantee. But if the recession deepens and people begin to feel they’ve had enough, then four could become five or six.

In July Sweden takes its turn at the European Union’s rotating presidency. Sweden is a self-confident, even cocky country which, in many areas of policy, sees things very differently to France, Germany or Britain. Its presidency promises to give a spur to European politics which will offer opportunities to progressive parties such as the SP.

The autumn will also see a full programme. The Irish may vote anew on the Lisbon Treaty, and if so I hope they will stand their ground and reject it a second time. The Foreign Affairs Committee of our own parliament, meanwhile, will travel to China where human rights, Tibet and other matters could be put on the agenda. This is an exciting prospect. There will be a new European Commission, and a new Dutch Commissioner. Let’s hope it won’t be another term for the free market fundamentalist Neelie Kroes.

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