World Citizen: Beating the Odds, Dutch Coalition Hangs On

World Citizen: Beating the Odds, Dutch Coalition Hangs On

AMSTERDAM -- Backpackers around the world took notice when the Dutch government announced plans to ban sales of marijuana to tourists in the Netherlands. Some observers viewed the decision as part of a definitive move to the right in Dutch politics. The reality, however, is not so simple; the Netherlands is not about to become a conservative country.

Rather than a move to the right, the latest news is one more piece of evidence that the old distinctions between left and right can no longer tell the full story in Dutch politics.

Like in much of Europe, politics in the Netherlands has taken a peculiar turn in the second decade of the 21st century. In an age of economic crises, government austerity and debates over immigration, voters are delivering surprises at the polls, eroding the standing of once-dominant parties and forcing politicians to forge new alliances that complicate their agendas. As a result, governments made up of fractious coalitions are devising policies that don't neatly fit into their old ideologies. The current Dutch government is a case in point.

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