Party watch: GroenLinks/PvdA alliance needs to make a mark

Timmermans at a pre-election party meeting of GroenLinks-PvdA Photo: S Boztas

The Netherlands goes to the polls on November 22 to elect a new government and 26 parties are taking part in the campaign.

Bringing Europe’s climate commissioner Frans Timmermans back from Brussels to lead the joint GroenLinks/PvdA election effort was a surprise move which, some commentators say, may not have had the desired effect on the electorate.

Timmermans might be the Netherlands’ most experienced politician in the international arena, but he does rub some people up the wrong way and came under considerable and unfair fire at the start of the campaign for his large house and his European salary. He’s also been criticized on the left for not being left-wing enough and for cosying up to Pieter Omzigt in particular at the start of the campaign.

Campaign leader: Frans Timmermans
Seats in parliament: 9+8
GroenLinks (Green-Left) was officially formed in 1990 from a grouping of four smaller left-wing and green parties – the CPN, EVP, PPR and the PSP. The party’s core values are environmental sustainability and social justice, but it has a bit of a leftist intellectual image and has never been in government.

For this election it has joined up with the Partij van de Arbeid (Labour Party) which was formed in 1946 and has former European commissioner and Labour minister Frans Timmermans at the helm. Now all they need is a decent name. Website

Main points from the manifesto

  • Improvements to rights and living conditions of seasonal workers
  • Same pay for contract as permanent staff
  • No major influx of workers from outside the EU
  • Establishment of a special fund to stimulate social housing sector
  • Official limits on rent increases – rent controls to cover all property
  • More options to subdivide large houses into flats
  • Further reductions in mortgage tax relief
  • Increase in the minimum wage to €16 per hour in 2027
  • Income to rise so that top up benefits (housing, childcare, health) can be phased out
  • Scrap healthcare own-risk
  • Dental treatment back in the basic health insurance policy
  • Introducing of road pricing with lower fees in areas without good public transport
  • Tax on kerosine and more investment in international trains
  • Introduction of polluter pays principle and a CO2 tax
  • Income tax cuts and higher taxes on assets

The latest opinion poll shows the left-wing GroenLinks/Labour partnership is on target to win 23 seats in the election, which would put them in third place and potentially outside a coalition role.

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