European elections: 16 parties are competing in the Netherlands

The European parliamentary elections take place on Thursday, May 23 and 16 parties are competing for the 25 Dutch seats. Here's a round-up, with the main points of their manifestos. PvdA (Labour) Campaign leader: Frans Timmermans Motto: Voor een zeker Europa (for an assured/confident Europe) Member of EU parliament's Party of European Socialists (S&D) Number of MEPs: 3 Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Create safe, legal immigration routes for refugees and prevent human trafficking Introduce a European profit tax for major tech companies Introduce a CO2 tax for companies, and a flight tax to encourage train travel Equalise labour rights across Europe to stop unfair competition CDA (Christian Democrats) Campaign leader: Esther de Lange Motto: Een sterk Europa (A strong Europe) Member of EU parliament’s European People’s Party (EPP) Number of MEPs: 5 Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Reduce the number of subsidies, replacing these with loans to increase budget efficiency Unify European immigration policy to prevent ‘asylum shopping’ Limit migration and Allow for more regional decisionmaking Stricter consequences for not meeting financial goals, such as temporary expulsion from the eurozone D66 (Liberal Democrats) Campaign leader: Sophie in ‘t Veld Motto: In Europa maken we de toekomst (Our future is in Europe) Member of EU parliament’s Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Number of MEPs: 4 Website (English) Main manifesto points: Increase European cooperation and representation A permanent European seat on the UN security council and other international organisations Create a European military force and a European intelligence service Europe should run on clean, CO2 free energy by 2050 VVD (right-wing Liberals) Campaign leader: Malik AzmaniMotto: Voor een sterk Nederland in een veilig Europa (For a strong Netherlands in a safe Europe Member of EU parliament’s Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Number of MEPs: 3 Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Reduce the EU to its core tasks, reducing costs in the process Cut farming subsidies and invest in innovation Increase the CO2 reduction goal for 2030 and allow countries to decide how to meet this goal PVV (pro-Nexit, anti-immigration) Campaign leader: Marcel de Graaff Motto: Nederland op 1 (The Netherlands first) Member of EU parliament’s Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) Number of MEPs: 4 Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Leave the EU, Schengen Area and eurozone Close borders to all migrants from Islamic countries, and deislamise the Netherlands Reinstate border controls and limit immigration Groenlinks (left-wing, green) Campaign leader: Bas Eickhout Motto: Voor verandering (For change) Member of EU parliament’s European Green Party Number of MEPs: 2 Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Close all coal power plants by 2030 Introduce taxes to discourage air travel, and encourage train travel by introducing highspeed trains across Europe Limit the power of tech giants, and make European agreements to ensure that major companies pay their fair share of taxes Forum voor Democracy (nationalist, pro-Nexit) Campaign leader: Derk Jan Eppink Motto: Een Europa van natiestaten (A Europe of nation states) Number of MEPs: 0, forecast to win four to five Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Leave the Paris Climate Agreement Leave the Schengen Area Hold a referendum on whether to get rid of the euro ChristenUnie/SGP (Conservative Christian parties) Campaign leader: Peter van Dalen Motto: Samenwerking ja, superstaat nee (Cooperation yes, super state no) Member of EU parliament’s European Reformists and Conservatives group Number of MEPs: 2 Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Limit the powers of the European parliament and the European Commission Create exit strategies for the Schengen Area and the eurozone, and disconnect EU membership from the obligation to enter the eurozone Remove ‘creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe’ sentence from the Treaty of Maastricht SP (Socialist Party) Campaign leader: Arnout Hoekstra Motto: Breek de macht van Brussel (Break the power of Brussels) Member of EU parliament’s European United Left–Nordic Green Left alliance Number of MEPs: 2 Website (English) Main manifesto points: Provide aid for vulnerable refugees and divide them across the whole EU while limiting economic migration Drastically reduce financial aid to struggling countries and banks Increase national control over social security questions such as pensions Create EU-wide agreements on minimum wages DENK (pro Turkey, left leaning) Campaign leader: Ayhan Tonça otto: Denkend aan Europa (Thinking of Europe) Number of MEPs: 0 Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Expand the European Union, adding Turkey and the Balkan countries Institute a racism tax for countries that don’t do enough to combat discrimination, and give the European Court of Human Rights more manpower and tools to take on discrimination cases Establish a European army, leaving control with the member states Partij voor de Dieren (animal rights party) Campaign leader: Anja Hazekamp Motto: Plan B voor Europa (Plan B for Europe) Member of EU Parliament’s Animal Politics EU Number of MEPs: 1 Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Establish stricter animal rights laws and stop overfishing Cut farming subsidies Stricter climate legislation, especially for companies 50PLUS (populist pensioners party) Campaign leader: Toine Manders Motto: De menselijke maat moet terug in Europa (Bring back the human dimension in Europe) Number of MEPs: 0 Website (Dutch only) Improve the position of seniors and prohibit any form of age discrimination Appoint a commissioner for the issues related to the ageing of the population Limit European legislation, give more power to member states Increase European cooperation on the sustainability front Jezus Leeft (Jesus Lives) Campaign leader: Florens van der Spek Motto: Volg Jezus (Follow Jesus) Number of MEPs: 0 Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Leave the EU It costs too much. Just listen to Jesus Ban abortion and euthanasia Ban smoking and drugs because too many people are depressed Stimulate the use of renewable energy and electric cars De Groenen (green) Campaign leader: Paul Berendsen Number of MEPs: 0 Motto: Basisinkomen: brandstof van de economie (Basic income: fuel of the economy) Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Institute a basic income to stimulate the economy Limit the usage of fossil fuels and transition to climateneutral energy Allow the European parliament to propose legislation, a power that is currently held by the European Commission Piratenpartij (pro-privacy) Campaign leader: Sent Wierda Member of EU parliament’s GreensEuropean Free Alliance Number of MEPs: 0 Website (Dutch only) Main manifesto points: Give more power to EU citizens, including the right to vote on legislation and propose legislation via an eparticipation tool Strengthen European privacy legislation Make ‘digital participation’ a fundamental European right Volt Nederland (pan-European) Campaign leader: Reinier van Lanschot Member of EU parliament’s Volt Europa Number of MEPs: 0 Website (in English) Main manifesto points: Establish a federal Europe with a European government Increase transparency in the European Union Adopt a minimum income above poverty level in all member states   More >

Wilders joins far-right rally in Milan

The far right European parliamentary faction founded five years ago by Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen held a rally in Milan this weekend in an attempt to widen its influence and consolidate the far-right parties in the European parliament. The ENF (Europe of Nations and Freedom) grouping in Europe, currently has 35 seats and is the smallest in the parliament. Wilders, Le Pen and several other far-right leaders were in Milan for the meeting which included Italy's current home affairs minister Matteo Salvini, Germany's AfD plus Czech and Bulgarian nationalist parties. However, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party who have according to Euronews, refused to form any form of alliance with Le Pen, were not present in Milan. 'Marine Le Pen and I had a real job putting this party together five years ago, and now there are twice as many of us,' Wilders told the NRC ahead of the meeting. 'We want to work with the heroes of Europe against the European Union monster. We may be the third-biggest grouping, perhaps even bigger.' Opinion polls suggest Salvini's Lega is on target to deliver 26 MEPS to the new group, with Le Pen's revamped RN on 20 and the AfD on 11. Support for Wilders' anti-immigrant and anti-EU PVV, however, is set to shrink in next Thursday's election as voters turn to the pro-Nexit Forum voor Democratie. But Forum campaign leader Derk-Jan Eppink said in April the party will not join Wilders' far-right platform. 'Working with Mrs Le Pen is a bridge to far for us,' Eppink said. In February, Forum agreed to join the European Conservatives and Reformists group which includes Britain’s Conservative party and Poland’s ruling PiS. The nationalist Sweden Democrats are also members. Two Dutch Protestant parties – the fundamentalist SGP and government party ChristenUnie – are also members of the ECR with one MEP each. Split ChristenUnie leader Gert Jan Segers repeated on Saturday that his party would not join a European parliamentary grouping which included Forum, broadcaster NOS reported. The party's position on climate change and support for a Nexit are main stumbling blocks, he said. 'We will have to find another grouping and that is what we are now thinking about,' he said. The fundamentalist SGP said it had no objections to working with Forum but that it would stick with ChristenUnie and look for a new home.  More >

Baudet under fire for neo-fascist film

Forum voor Democratie leader Thierry Baudet has come under fire for retweeting an anti-immigrant video by a far right German women's group for the second time. The video features several young white women describing how they are 'not safe because you refuse to protect us' and stating that they have been 'sacrificed and sold'. 'Thanks to your immigration politics, we will soon be facing a majority of young men from a society that is the enemy of women,' the text states, which has been translated into Dutch in Baudet's retweet. The speakers in the video repeat the phrase 'Ich habe es gewusst' - literally 'I knew' several times at the end of the film - a reference to the phrase 'wir haben es nicht gewusst' or 'we did not know', said to describe German attitudes to the Holocaust post WWII. The phrase 'Ich habe es gewusst' is also stamped over photos of Mark Rutte, Jesse Klaver and Rob Jetten which have been added to the end of the film in the new version. In his retweet, Baudet states 'goosebumps and so true'. 'Vote for FvD to fundamentally change immigration policy,' he said. Oef. Kippenvel. En zo waar. Stem #FVD om het immigratiebeleid fundamenteel te veranderen. 23 mei. — Thierry Baudet (@thierrybaudet) May 17, 2019 D66 leader Rob Jetten has accused Baudet of 'gutter politics' for spreading the video. 'By linking Rutte, Klaver and myself to rape and referring to the Holocaust, Baudet has shown his most sickening side,' Jetten said. Baudet first retweeted the video in January 2018, without the Dutch subtitles or the attacks on Dutch politicians at the end. The film was made by women who are known associates of the neo-fascist Identitäre Bewegung group, and call themselves 120 Dezibel. Over 1,000 people have commented on the use of the video in Baudet's own time-line, most of which are highly critical. Some also refer to anti-women comments made by Baudet himself. Dit uit de mond van iemand die Julien Blanc een held noemt... — Bianca Jansen (@BiancaJansenDH1) May 18, 2019   More >

12% of EU nationals in NL can vote

Just 12.2% of EU nationals in the Netherlands are registered to vote in next week's European elections, according to calculations by The national statistics agency CBS said on Friday that 3.6% of the total 13.5 million people who can take part in Thursday's vote are EU nationals - a total of 491,000 people. But figures from the home affairs ministry show just 60,000 EU citizens are actually included on the voting register, meaning just over 12% will actually be able to vote. Registration had to be completed by April 9. Research by has shown many Dutch towns failed to inform EU residents that they have to sign up to a register to receive a ballot paper. Haarlem, Lisse, Oss, Rijswijk, Roermond and Amersfoort are among the places where EU nationals complain they were not informed about registration. 'I have been here for 20 years but was not contacted by the gemeente in Lisse,' one reader said. 'I can understand no longer being registered to vote in UK as I have been gone too long but I just assumed that the Netherlands would at least give me the option.' Haarlem A spokeswoman for Haarlem town council told it had written to all EU nationals in January informing them about their right to vote and that they had to register to do so. The letter was sent in Dutch, English, French and German, the spokeswoman said. In total, 592 EU nationals are registered to vote in Haarlem, out of 6,744. has asked the home affairs ministry and several other local authorities to comment on the problems. Of the total number of EU nationals in the Netherlands who would have been eligible to vote, 24% are Polish, 14% German and 9% from Britain. Non-Dutch EU nationals are largely in the 25 to 35 age range, the CBS said.  More >

Provinces set to miss wind power targets

Most Dutch provinces are set to miss their target for wind energy by the end of next year as a result of legal delays and resistance by political parties. The transition to renewable energy is one of the issues dominating the campaign for next week's provincial assembles, as planning and power generation falls within their remit. All 12 provinces signed an agreement in 2013 to build enough wind turbines to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020. The Volkskrant reported that Noord-Brabant and Zuid-Holland would definitely miss their targets, while Utrecht, Limburg, Drenthe and Friesland also risk falling short. Any province that fails to achieve its target will have to make up double the amount of the shortfall in the following three years, either from wind power or other renewable sources. However, the issue has also generated fierce resistance from parties that dispute the need to tackle climate change. According to a survey by NOS 55% of parties contesting the provincial elections are against building more wind turbines on land. The most vociferous opponents are the far-right populist parties PVV and Forum voor Democratie, whose leaders Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet have been openly hostile to climate science. The parties' manifestos explicitly rule out any further development of wind or solar energy. Denk is also opposed to building more wind farms on land, while around half of the VVD's provincial groups and most 50Plus factions are also against turbines. Even GroenLinks calls for restrictions in some provinces such as Gelderland, where it says wind farms should be located away from residential areas. At the other end of the spectrum is the Animal Rights Party (PvdD), which has embraced a 'deep green' programme in recent years and has called for every province to be climate neutral by 2030. 'Radicalisation' warning In some rural provinces the campaign against wind power has led to heated exchanges. The National Co-ordinator for Counter-Terrorism and Security has warned of a risk of radicalisation and extremism following a series of incidents of threats, vandalism and intimidation. Anonymous posters in Drenthe depicted local ChristenUnie assembly member Tjisse Stelpstra as a Nazi concentration camp guard after he led calls for the province to switch from oil and gas to renewable sources. 'We can't keep saying no if we want to stop gas extraction and shut the coal-fired power stations. We need to keep talking to each other about how and where,' he said. Plans for more wind power have also been held up by legal challenges. Jan Nieboer, whose tax advice bureau in the Veen colonies in the north of the province, has become the centre of a campaign to take what he calls 'feudal wind farmers' in the administrative courts. He claims a law passed in The Hague that allows the government to co-ordinate national crisis prevention plans has allowed central government to steamroller the interests of people living in rural areas. 'The provincial authorities have bent over backwards,' Nieboer told De Volkskrant. 'I am warning that there will be consequences if the turbines are built,' he added. 'We will have a war in the Veen colonies until the last windmill has been flattened. I'm not playing with fire, but the wind farmers and the province are.' Although the Council of State has dismissed the bulk of objections to windfarm projects, the time spent handling them has hampered provincial authorities' efforts to hit their deadlines and led to complaints that they are being unfairly punished. In Friesland the provincial council only secured permission to build a wind farm in the IJsselmeer last year and argues it should not be made to pay for are 'beyond the influence of the province'. It has stated it 'will not agree with any doubling of the portion of our contribution that we have not achieved.'  More >

Councillor gives up seat to promote woman

A newly elected councillor has given up his seat for a younger female colleague because he was concerned about the council chamber being dominated by men. Jan de Ridder, 74, put himself forward as a candidate for the CDA in Noordwijk, two years after resigning as party group leader. He received 278 votes in last Wednesday's election to secure a seat on the council, but said he would be handing it over to 34-year-old Natalie Baarnhoorn. De Ridder told Omroep West he had decided not to take up his place because it would have meant the party was represented by five men. He spent the week discussing the dilemma with his wife and party colleagues. 'I deliberately voted for a female CDA candidate in the council elections because I believe women should be given a chance,' he said on the day of the vote.'The problem is that if I accept the seat on the council, I am taking the place of a young female colleague.' De Ridder said he had been reluctant to be listed as a candidate, but agreed out of loyalty to his party. 'I said yes, provided I was given a low place on the list. I also told lots of my family and acquaintances: don't vote for me, vote for another CDA candidate.'  More >

Big Dutch cities go for 'broad coalitions'

In both Rotterdam and The Hague, where populist parties topped the results in last month's local elections, local leaders are pinning their hopes on broad coalitions to form new city administrations. In Amsterdam and Utrecht, the left-wing greens have the upper hand while Eindhoven is split along clear left-right lines. Here's a summary of the coalition negotiations in the five big cities so far. Rotterdam In Rotterdam, populist party Leefbaar Rotterdam, wants to set up a 'broad coalition' including the VVD, D66, GroenLinks and Labour. Such an alliance would control 31 of the 45 seats on the city council and would 'do justice' to the election results, according to Leefbaar leader Joost Eerdemans. However, the Labour party has already said it will not join an alliance involving Leefbaar, partly because of its links with Thierry Baudet's Forum for Democracy. D66 has also said the link between Leefbaar and FvD makes it tricky to work together. FvD supported Leefbaar during the election campaign. D66, the CDA and Leefbaar form the outgoing Rotterdam coalition. The Hague In The Hague, the surprise win by populist Groep de Mos, founded by former PVV parliamentarian Richard de Mos has muddied the waters considerably. De Mos has appointed Hans Wiegel, a VVD stalwart, to try to put a coalition together and Wiegel has also said he will go for a broad alliance involving De Mos, the VVD, D66 and GroenLinks. GroenLinks has already said such an alliance is unlikely because of the right-wing bias. The Hague's current coalition is a five party group made up of D66, PvdA, Haagse Stadspartij, VVD and CDA. Amsterdam Amsterdam’s GroenLinks leader Rutger Groot Wassink is pinning his hopes on a coalition with D66, Labour and the Socialists. While GroenLinks was the big winner in last Wednesday’s vote, the other three parties all lost a considerable number of seats. Nevertheless, Groot Wassink told the paper he did not consider this to be a problem. ‘A vote for a party which lost is as valuable as one for a party that won,’ he said. The pro-animal PvdD, which like the Socialists has three seats on the city council, is not invited for the formation talks because of differences about tackling inequality, Groot Wassink said. Amsterdam has been ruled by a coalition of the VVD, D66 and the SP for the past four years. Utrecht Like Amsterdam, GroenLinks overtook D66 to become the biggest party and has also called for an alliance with D66, Labour and the SP. While Labour and the SP have already said they are happy to join such a coalition, local D66 leader Klaas Verschuure had said he favours the VVD ahead of Labour and the SP. Utrecht is currently run by a four party coalition: D66, GroenLinks, VVD and SP. Eindhoven In Eindhoven the VVD and GroenLinks both emerged from the vote with the same number of seats and both have appointed their own coalition negotiators. But the VVD has already said it is prepared to work with the left-wing greens, possibly in combination with D66 or the Christian Democrats. Eindhoven's current administration is a combination of the PvdA, D66, SP and GroenLinks.  More >

Amsterdam coalition talks poised to start

Amsterdam's GroenLinks leader Rutger Groot Wassink is pinning his hopes on a coalition with the Liberal democratic party D66, Labour and the Socialists, the Parool said on Friday afternoon. While GroenLinks was the big winner in last Wednesday's vote, the other three parties all lost a considerable number of seats. Nevertheless, Groot Wassink told the paper he did not consider this to be a problem. 'A vote for a party which lost is as valuable as one for a party that won,' he said. The pro-animal PvdD, which like the Socialists has three seats on the city council, is not invited for the formation talks because of differences about tackling inequality, Groot Wassink said. Amsterdam has been ruled by a coalition of the right-wing Liberal VVD, D66 and the SP for the past four years. D66 leader Reinier van Dantzig, whose party's support plummeted from 14 to eight, said that the three other parties are 'all progressive parties and we have much in common.' Labour leader Marjolein Moorman said her party is keen to become part of the city administration once again. In terms of party programmes, an alliance between the four 'must be possible' she said.  More >