Labour celebrates 125 years of social democracy in Netherlands
Today labor party PvdA is celebrating 125 years of social democracy in the Netherlands. The party's predecessor SDAP was established on 26 August 1894. PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher read the SDAP's founding minutes and found them still astonishingly relevant today, he said in an interview with newspaper AD.
"Where then the worker had to be protected against hyper-capitalism, it is now against the shareholder. They benefit and the employee gets uncertainty. The need for protection of workers, for participation, is still there", the PvdA leader said. Despite the fact that unemployment is falling and purchasing power is rising, the current government of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie has a lot to answer for, Asscher said. The Rutte III's government's first instinct is always to protect companies, and not people, according to him.
"This cabinet has taken office with the largest budget room since the 70s. That creates obligations. Subsequently, the referendum was abolished, VAT and energy bills increased and we have a budget surplus of 12 billion euros under the promise that everyone will benefit. Isn't that a failure? In case of doubt, this cabinet takes the side of employers and money in the bank as quickly as possible", the PvdA leader said. "When I argued for investing in the teacher shortage, I only heard: we are already doing so much. Well, come along with all those teachers. We made a point that the higher energy bill would result in purchasing power not increasing at all and that was first denied, then it was true and now it will be repaired in the future."
According to Asscher, Rutte gives way to "theoretical threats" from companies - like Unilever threatening to leave the Netherlands if dividend tax wasn't abolished - and that is a problem. "We can be proud of our companies. But the deal is they get a good country to do business in, with good roads, rail links, well-trained staff, no corruption. And in return they pay their share. In recent years that share has only become smaller. While employees have started paying more. Look at what happened with the dividend tax: large companies say to a democratically elected Prime Minister 'that tax must be reduced or we will leave here'. Every time you show sensitivity to it, you force other countries to do the same and we all get poorer."
Dividend tax wasn't scrapped and thousands of jobs didn't disappear, Asscher said. "We must do the same now", he said, referring to a proposal to reduce corporate income tax. "125 years ago, capitalism was so erratic, so elusive, you couldn't do anything about it as an ordinary man. We tackled the excesses", he said. "Globalization makes it easier for companies to circumvent tax and environmental rules."
"The reduction in corporate income tax must be taken off the table. It involves 4 billion euros. Apart from the money, it also about the principle. It makes us vulnerable", the PvdA leader said. "Ultimately, the money must come from somewhere, So then we either have to cut back on the welfare state or the money has to be raised by employees. After Rutte hinted before the summer that the reduction would be canceled, it should now really be announced on Budget Day. This money must be spent on people. Now it ends up with top executives who already earn tons and with shareholders."
Asscher also spoke about the Partial Ban on Face Covering Clothing Act, commonly referred to as the burka ban, which was implemented on August 1st. Hendrik Jan Biemond, a PvdA city councilor in Amsterdam, protested against the ban by dressing in a yellow burka and demonstrating with others dressed in rainbow-colored burkas during Prise Amsterdam. Asscher called this protest "misplaced".
He is in favor of the ban. "I think the law is well justifiable", Asscher said to the newspaper. "The debate is extremely polarized and I don't think we can solve a big problem with it, but it's great that people can recognize each other in public transportation and education."