Local elections 2018: the national parties going local

Local elections 2018: the national parties going local

The Netherlands has an ever-expanding range of political parties and in local government, the splintering is even more obvious. In fact, about 40% of the local election votes go to a local interest party – usually identified by the name of the city or town and the word ‘leefbaar’ or ‘belangen’.

Here’s an alphabetical list of the 12 parties which won seats in parliament at the last election in September 2012 and which are contesting the local elections.

CDA
Party leader
: Sybrand Buma
The Christen Democratisch Appèl (Christian Democratic Appeal) was formed in 1980 through the merger of three other ‘confessional’ parties that spanned the historic Catholic-Protestant divide. The CDA and its predecessors participated in every government between 1918 and 1994, and again from 2002 until 2012. The Bible is seen as a source of inspiration rather than a diktat. Politically, the CDA is viewed as middle of the road and socially conservative. Website

ChristenUnie
Party leader: Gert-Jan Segers
The ChristenUnie is the mildest of the three Dutch Christian parties and sometimes described as left-wing because of its progressive socio-economic policies. However, Biblical principles are the basis of party policy and most of its votes come from the ‘Bible Belt’ region. The ChristenUnie is opposed to abortion and euthanasia and ties itself in knots over homosexuality, which it prefers to ignore. Website

Denk
Party leader
: Tunahan Kuzu
Denk 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 is extremely active on social media. 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

D66
Party leader: Alexander Pechtold
Democraten 66 was formed in 1966 with the aim of reforming the Dutch democratic system. Describing itself as a progressive, socially liberal party, D66’s political fortunes have been a story of ups and downs but the party did extremely well at the last local elections. Current leader Alexander Pechtold has won plaudits for his opposition to the rhetoric of anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders. Website

Forum voor Democratie (Amsterdam only)
Party leader
: Thierry Baudet
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.  Staunchly anti-immigration, it calls for a law to preserve Dutch values against Muslim immigrants. The party is hopeful of winning several seats in Amsterdam under the leadership of Annabel Nanninga, a columnist with a vicious turn of phrase – she invented the term dobberneger (floating negro) to describe refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. Website

GroenLinks
Party leader: Jesse Klaver
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. Bright spark Klaver is just 30 and has been an MP since 2010. He hopes GroenLinks will be part of the local coalitions in at least 100 towns and cities. Website

PvdA
Party leader:
Lodewijk Asscher
The Partij van de Arbeid (Labour Party) was formed in 1946 and immediately formed part of the first post-war coalition government. The party’s support has collapsed since it joined the 2012 coalition government. In 2014, it lost control of Amsterdam to D66 for the first time. Website

PvdD
Party leader
: Marianne Thieme
The Partij voor de Dieren (Party for Animals) was founded in 2002 and claims to be the first mainstream political party in the world to put animal rights first. Its leader Marianne Thieme is a Seventh Day Adventist and once caused upset by telling the Telegraaf newspaper that Adam and Eve were vegetarians. Website

PVV
Party leader:
Geert Wilders
The Partij voor de Vrijheid (Freedom Party) was formed in 2006 by Geert Wilders after he broke away from the free-market, centre-right Liberals (VVD). Wilders – famed for his odd, peroxide blond hair – has made a career of speaking out against the ‘Islamisation’ of the Netherlands and lives under armed guard after receiving death threats. The party currently has local councillors in Almere and The Hague and is contesting the local elections in 30 council areas, but not Amsterdam.  Website

SGP
Party leader:
Kees van de Staaij
The testimonial Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij is the most orthodox of the fringe Christian parties and usually wins 2 or 3 seats in the 150-member parliament. The party believes the country should be governed “entirely on the basis of the ordinances of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures” and does not think women should play an active role in politics. Seriously. Website

SP
Party leader:
Lilian Marijnissen
The populist-left Socialistische Partij, with its logo of a tomato, broke into national politics in 1994 with the slogan ‘stem tegen, stem SP’ (Vote against, vote SP). The party is anti-EU, anti-globalisation, and pro the working man – similar to the PVV, but without the racism. The SP is part of several council coalitions, including in Amsterdam, where it rules with the VVD and D66. Website

VVD
Party leader:
Mark Rutte (prime minister)
The Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) is a tricky party to place outside the Dutch political sphere. Supportive of the free market as far as the economy is concerned, the party is traditionally liberal on social issues but has been driven to the right by the growth in popularity of the PVV. Website