Dutch Language Blog

Dutch Political Parties Part Two Posted by on Mar 29, 2010 in Dutch Language

In my last blog I left off with telling you a bit about five of the major political parties in the Netherlands.  As you could see, this is an interesting time for the Netherlands in terms of politics, with many party leaders coming and going.  In this blog I’m going to continue on with this list, in no particular order.  Again, I absolutely encourage you all to express your opinions and engage in debate in the comments section, especially since my overview of the parties is simply that: an overview.  I couldn’t possibly list all the standpoints on all the issues for all the parties here.

CU, ChristenUnie : Christian Union

Christen Unie is a conservative democratic Christian party.  This party was the surprise third party rounding off the last coalition government.  I say surprise because they are not a large party in comparison to VVD, which was the expected third party for the coalition.  Although they have technically been a party since 2000, they were formed, and reformed throughout the 20th Century from a variety of more conservative Christian parties.  Although they tend to take a more conservative view on social issues such as abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage, they are economically a bit more left than CDA and focus a great deal on education, social services and health care issues.  CU uses the Bible directly as a basis for it’s policies and ideology, whereas CDA uses the Bible in a more general sense for guidance on issues.  The current vice Prime Minister is Andre Rouvoet from Christen Unie.  After the fall of the cabinet he was appointed Minister of Education, Culture and Science.

GroenLinks : Green Left

GroenLinks is a leftist party that was formed out of three smaller leftist parties and one leftist Christian party in 1989.  Their name basically says it all: they are a leftist party with a focus on the environment and environmentally sustainable solutions to modern problems.  They focus on social issues such as education, crime and unemployment and their solution through social support and social methods.  They are socially tolerant, environmentally conscious, and are socially liberal on issues such as gay marriage, euthanasia and abortion.  They are often criticized for solutions that are too long-term and do not produce immediate results, although they can also be praised for having a great deal of foresight in their policy decisions.

Currently the most well known face of GroenLinks is Femke Halsema.  In stark contrast to the fighting spirit of Agnes Kant from SP, Halsema tends to focus on discussion and cooperative solutions.  In recent years she has become a well respected member of parliament, and until the recent upheaval of PvdA, was well liked for a possible position as Prime Minister.

PVV, Partij voor de Vrijheid : Party for Freedom

PVV is probably the most controversial of all the current Dutch political parties.  It’s founding member, Geert Wilders, was originally a member of VVD, and his economic policies generally reflect that.  This party is more economically liberal and will often have the same economic stand on any given issue as VVD.  Where Geert Wilders differed so dramatically from the VVD was in his radical view of Islam as a threat to modern European society.  He takes a strong stand on the active prevention of a further “Islamicisation” of the Netherlands, and is outspoken against further immigration of residents from Islamic countries.  He proposes sending any person of Islamic faith back to their country of origin if they commit a crime in the Netherlands, taxing any woman wearing a head scarf, and introducing a sort of militia to reduce crime.  As you can see, these are pretty extreme proposals, and people get very riled up about the things he says.

Due to his often argumentative style, and some of the more extreme statements he has made, he has consistently become more marginalized by other political parties.  SP has taken a strong stand against PVV, stating that SP would refuse to form a coalition government with them.  PvdA has made it clear that they also will not form a coalition government with PVV, though CDA has held that it is undemocratic to refuse to form a coalition with anyone if the Dutch voters have chosen via their votes to include this party.  Despite the lack of support from some of the other parties, PVV did reasonably well in the recent town hall elections in the two towns they participated in.  Although this offered a chance for PVV to gain more influence, it appears that no one is willing to form a coalition with them in those towns.  Only time will tell if his party peters out or gains more widespread support, although due to the recent changes in PvdA, it appears that Job Cohen might prove a worthy adversary when the elections come around on June 9th.

Despite all the negative press afforded PVV, the party has been responsible for bringing to light a lively discussion on the nature of hate speech and how that differs from the right to free speech in this country.  Geert Wilders is currently on trial for inciting hatred against a particular group, that being Muslims, and has opened up a much broader discussion on what freedom of speech should and shouldn’t include.

Trots op Nederland : Proud of the Netherlands

Trots op Nederland is another populist political party, not so dissimilar from PVV.  They are economically conservative and very nationalistic.  Unlike PVV, who has received media attention via radical statements against Islam and Muslims generally, Trots op Nederland has mostly only eluded to the statements that PVV outright declares.  They are proud of their country, would like to stop what they perceive to be a flood of immigration into the country, and feel very strongly about maintaining traditional Dutch cultural values.  The founder and most well known member is Rita Verdonk, who officially founded the party in 2008.  The party has dwindled during recent years and might only have a short-lived career.

Partij voor de Dieren : Party for the Animals

PvdD was founded in 2006 by Marianne Thieme as a means of bringing the issues of animal rights and animal welfare into the public sphere.  The founding of the party was heralded by support from a few Dutch celebrities, and since then has maintained a small minority of votes, but always enough to remain in parliament.  Although Marianne Thieme seems to disagree with me on this point, I do think it is a single issue party, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Mainly I mention PvdD not because they have a strong political influence, but because they are a great example of the diversity found in the Dutch multiparty system.

And that concludes our list of Dutch political parties.  Now, there are a few more parties floating around out there with around one seat in parliament, but mostly the ones I’ve listed are the ones that gain the most attention.  Some are more controversial than others, some are single issue parties, and some of them will probably be around for a very long time.

So how does the Dutch multiparty system differ from your own system?  Can you see any pros or cons to this system?  If you could vote, or do vote, what party do you support and why?  Share your opinions with us in the comments section below!

If you liked this post you might also like:

Dutch Political Parties Part One

Dutch Political System in a Nutshell

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