Party watch: Progressive D66 wants to build a circular economy


The Netherlands goes to the polls on November 22 to elect a new government. The progressive liberal party D66 wants to build a sustainable economy where GDP is replaced by a “climate inclusive budget framework” that takes into account the impact of economic activity on the environment and natural resources. The party is staunchly pro-European, arguing EU-wide deals are the only way to tackle issues such as migration and climate change. It also believes investing in education is the best way to achieve “radical equality”.

Campaign leader: Rob Jetten (climate minister in the current cabinet)
Seats in parliament: 24
Democraten 66 was formed in 1966 with the aim of reforming the Dutch democratic system. Describing itself as a socially liberal party, D66’s political history has been punctuated by ups and downs: the party has been a junior partner in several coalitions, while the low point was reached in 2006 when it was reduced to a rump of three MPs. It achieved its best ever result in 2021 when it won 24 seats under the leadership of career diplomat Sigrid Kaag and has been part of the ruling coalition since 2017. Kaag stood down as leader when the cabinet collapsed in July this year, blaming the abuse she endured as a prominent woman in politics – earlier this year protesters brandishing burning torches confronted her outside a debate in Overijssel. The youthful Rob Jetten has taken over the leadership but opinion polls put D66 on course to lose around two-thirds of its seats.

Website (including manifesto summary in English)

Main points from the manifesto:

  • The Netherlands to be climate neutral by 2040 and have a circular economy by 2050
  • Raise the minimum wage to at least €17.50 by 2028. Welfare support and state pensions to rise in step
  • Replace the benefits system with a “baseline income” – low earners would receive a rebate on their tax return
  • Universal free childcare up to the age of 12
  • A pay-per-kilometre road tax, more long-distance bike routes and extra rail lines
  • Cut nitrogen compound emissions by half by 2030 and create buffer zones around Natura 2000 conservation areas
  • Voting age to be lowered to 16; number of MPs to be raised from 150 to at least 260
  • Higher taxes on short-haul flights, business class and private jets
  • “Climate tickets” to allow cheap travel on public transport outside peak hours
  • Faster decisions on asylum, plus earlier access to Dutch language classes and the right to work for refugees
  • All students at college and university to receive equal funding. Interest on student loans to be limited
  • Establishment of new fund to add floors to existing apartment blocks and subdivide properties
  • Caps on rent increases and further restrictions on mortgage tax relief
  • Keti Koti (July 1, the date slavery was abolished in the Dutch colonies) to be made a public holiday

D66 draws voters from both the left and right of the spectrum, but its vote is concentrated in the Randstad and university cities. It is a potential junior partner for the PvdA/GroenLinks combination, but with Dilan Yesilgöz taking the VVD on a more right-wing course and Pieter Omtzigt favouring a Eurosceptic line, it is unlikely to join a cabinet led by either of the other two largest parties.

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