The newbies of the Dutch election: six first time parties

Pre-printed election posters in Amsterdam. Photo: Bram Petraeus / HH

More than half the parties taking part in the upcoming Dutch election will present themselves to voters for the first time. Yörük Bahçeli takes a look at six which might just make it into parliament.

The new parties on this year’s ballot box have been the focus of much attention on social media. A recent study calculating the number of seats they would win based on the number of times they have been mentioned on Twitter put the number at 15.

However, reality is far from that, with polls showing only Denk, Forum voor Democratie and VNL likely to win a mere two to five seats between them.

Paul Lucardie, researcher at the political party documentation centre at Groningen University sees Denk as the most likely to succeed. ‘You have to own an issue that’s quite distinctive, not really represented by established parties,’ he told DutchNews.nl.

Muslim voters

‘Their distinctive issue is non-discrimination. Even though that issue has been mentioned by parties like D66 and GroenLinks, it’s not central to them,’ he said, stressing its importance to a substantial number of voters, particularly of Muslim origins.

For this reason, Lucardie believes VNL will not be as successful. ‘They have been called the PVV-light,’ he said, as the two parties compete for anti-immigration voters. With VNL also competing with the VVD for economically liberal voters, ‘it’s difficult to distinguish them from these parties,’ he said.

Though new parties are unlikely to make significant gains, the rise in the number of fringe parties worried both the VVD and CDA, and both have called for an electoral threshold. But they haven’t convinced Lucardie. ‘I’m not sure if that’s more important than having broad representation,’ he said.

Here are the leading six new parties, in order of being launched.

Voor Nederland
Seats in parliament
: 2
Campaign leader: Jan Roos
Campaign slogan: Lage belastingen, meer veiligheid, minder immigratie, meer democratie (Lower taxes, more security, less immigration, more democracy)

The party currently holds two seats in parliament as Groep Bontes/Van Klaveren/ While Bontes was expelled from the PVV for criticizing the party’s organisation, Joram Van Klaveren left the party following Wilders’s infamous fewer Moroccans pledge. Its campaign leader, Jan Roos, is a former GeenStijl reporter and led the GeenPeil campaign (see below), which initiated the Ukraine referendum. Presenting itself as a classical-liberal party, it deems the PVV’s economic stance too left-wing. Website

Denk
Campaign leader
: Tunahan Kuzu
Seats in parliament: 2
Campaign slogan: Denkend aan Nederland (Thinking about the Netherlands)

Currently in parliament as Groep Kuzu/Öztürk, the party was founded after Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk, two MPs of Turkish descent, were expelled from the Labour Party for opposing the government’s integration policy. The party calls for acceptance, rather than integration of minorities, and wants to create a Ministry of Widespread Acceptance, a racism register, and subject offenders to anti-discrimination education. Often at the centre of controversy, it has constantly been called on to condemn Turkey’s repressive government and labelled ‘the long arm of Ankara’ for its reluctance to do so. Website

Forum voor Democratie
Campaign leader
: Thierry Baudet
Campaign slogan: Pak je stem terug op 15 maart (Get your vote back on 15 March)

One of the forces behind the Ukraine referendum, the party calls for democratic reform through binding referendums and an e-democracy platform to support petitions, citizen initiatives and make it easier to run for public office. It says the Netherlands is in an existential crisis, having lost control of its borders and its sovereignty to the EU. It calls for referendums on the future of the euro as well as freedom of movement within the EU. Staunchly anti-immigration, it calls for a law to preserve Dutch values against Muslim immigrants. Leader Baudet’s views on sexual consent have come under fire due to an op-ed in which he wrote: ‘women want to be caught off guard, dominated and overcome.’ Website

Niet Stemmers
Campaign leader
: Peter Plasman
Campaign slogan: Grootste politieke partij van Nederland: Niet Stemmers (Biggest party of the Netherlands: Non-Voters)

The party’s slogan refers to the last parliamentary election in 2012, when approximately 25% of voters did not vote, making non-voters the second biggest grouping within the Dutch electorate behind the VVD. Niet Stemmers was founded to confront political parties with the reality of low turnout. If elected, the party will simply leave its seats vacant. ‘No longer will their votes go to other parties; from now on the non-voters will get their own seats,’ it says. Website

GeenPeil
Campaign leader
: Jan Dijkgraaf
Campaign slogan: Stem op jezelf, kies GeenPeil (Vote for yourself, choose GeenPeil)

GeenPeil rose to fame when it initiated the Ukraine Referendum and was launched as a political party in December. It has particularly attacked what it sees as prime minister Mark Rutte’s dismissal of the Ukraine referendum result. GeenPeil has no programme and no standpoints. Each week, party members will determine how MPs will vote on upcoming proposals, motions and amendments through an online system. While GeenPeil has no standpoints, its leader Dijkgraaf certainly does, expressing them in daily open letters on current affairs. Website

Artikel 1
Campaign leader
: Sylvana Simons
Campaign slogan: Een nieuwe politiek van gelijkwaardigheid (A new politics of equality)

The party was founded by Sylvana Simons, a former TV presenter known for her stance against Zwarte Piet. She was and founding member of Denk but left the party in December. Artikel 1’s name and policies refer to the first article of the Dutch constitution, which states: ‘All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted.” With positions fairly similar to Denk, the party puts greater emphasis on women’s rights and sexual minorities. Website