Political Party Analysis: Party for Freedom (Netherlands)

The next party we will cover in our analysis of Dutch politics is the Euroskeptic and controversial Party for Freedom (PVV).

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Overview and History

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) is one of the newest and most controversial parties in the country, holding Euroskeptic, nationalist, and anti-Islam positions.  Founded by party leader Geert Wilders in 2006 as an expansion of his solo independent party, the PVV has grown quickly, making serious waves throughout Dutch politics.  They are largely considered extremist by other parties, and Geert Wilders was convicted of hate speech (a punishment-less conviction) in December because of his comments about Moroccan immigrants (read more here).  Despite this conviction, Wilders and the PVV are poised to do very well in the 2017 election, which we will discuss more below.  They are not usually open to forming coalitions with other parties, though they did support the minority government of Mark Rutte in 2010 until pulling their support over disagreements about the budget in 2012.

wilders
PVV Party Leader Geert Wilders is one of the most hated, and successful, men in Dutch politics. (Photo from Parool)

Recent Electoral History and Political Power

National Party Strength Ranking: 4th

The PVV is the fourth strongest party in the Netherlands heading into the election on March 15th.  Details on their control in specific areas are below.

Prime Minister: The PVV has never had a Prime Minister and have never been an official coalition partner in the government.

House of Representatives: In 2012 the party received 10.1% of the vote and 15 out of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.  The PVV finished in 3rd place, losing 5.4% of the vote and 9 seats.  They entered into the opposition after pulling their support for Mark Rutte’s government in 2012, triggering the elections.  The election was considered a rejection of the party pulling its support for the VVD-led government.  Currently they only hold 12 seats in the chamber after 3 representatives left the party (2 of which formed “For the Netherlands”, or VNL).

Senate: The PVV won 9 out of the 75 seats in the Senate in the 2015 Senate Election, finishing tied for 4th place.  Members are selected by the states, showing the party’s relative weakness at the regional level compared to their national-level strength.

European Parliament: The PVV is a member of the Europe of Nations and Freedom parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 3rd place with 13.3% of the vote, earning 4 out of the 26 seats allocated to the Netherlands.  They lost 3.5% of the vote compared to the previous elections but did not lose any seats.

State Parliaments: The PVV holds 66 out of 570 seats throughout the state parliaments following the 2015 Regional Elections, which makes them the 5th strongest party throughout the states.  They lost 3 seats throughout the regional parliaments compared to the previous elections.

Projections for 2017 Election

Due to the unpopularity of the current VVD-Labour coalition government, the PVV is expected to do extremely well in the 2017 elections.  According to opinion polling, the party is projected to earn between 28 and 37 seats in the House of Representatives.  It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where they will finish as the support for right-wing populist parties (and candidates) is notoriously hard to track (re: Donald Trump’s success in the United States).  Their popularity has shifted quickly, positively and negatively, throughout the campaign, but they are definitely expected to improve greatly on the 12 seats they currently hold.  The PVV has consistently led in most polls and is likely to win the election.

(March 9th update): The PVV has steadily been dropping in the polls since January, and they are now projected to receive anywhere between 20 and 28 seats, putting them possibly in second behind VVD.

Despite their potential win, it is extremely unlikely that the PVV will form a government.  As we discussed in our general preview of the election, every other major party has ruled out forming a coalition with them, so they will not have the seats necessary (76) to form a government.  This will create a complicated situation for other parties to form a coalition since the PVV will hold almost a quarter of the seats in the chamber.


Economic and Fiscal Policy

The PVV holds many different views, including many free market reforms as well as reversals of budget cuts.  Firstly, their Euroskeptic position involves leaving the Euro (and the EU in general) and returning to their own currency.  They call the EU a violation of national sovereignty and consider its policies to be contrary to the interests of the Netherlands, especially on immigration issues. Next, they support expansion of the government provided healthcare, increasing the budget by 3.7 billion Euros (according to their own projections).  They also want to reduce the retirement age back to 65 and expand public pensions to everyone.  Their plan also specifically states a reversal in all recent budget cuts, while advocating lowering the income taxes and vehicle ownership taxes.   They plan to offset this increase in the deficit by removing all foreign aid, many subsidies, and shutting down the public broadcasting company.  The PVV advocates reducing regulations and taxes on companies, especially small businesses.  They also support “clean” coal and oil until cheaper alternatives have been found.

Liberty Rating*:  C+

Social and Foreign Policy

The PVV is nationalistic and often considered anti-Islam for its social and foreign policy.  They call for a complete “Nexit” from the European Union, one of the key tenants of their platform.  A large reason for this is due to immigration policy, in which the PVV rejects all refugees and supports deporting those already in the country.  They believe the EU has not done enough to protect the exterior boundaries and has caused the immigration crisis.  When it comes to Muslims, the PVV calls for the banning of the Koran, burqas in public, kosher and Muslim slaughter, and Muslim “expressions that are against the public order”.  In their platform they state that they want to “de-Islamize” the Netherlands.  They also call for tracking the ethnicity of all Dutch citizens, deportation of criminals who are dual citizens, rejection of all immigration from Muslim countries and potentially sections of Eastern Europe, and Constitutional protections for the dominance of Judeo-Christian culture in the Netherlands.

Liberty Rating*: E

Political Spectrum***

pvv-dutch-spectrum

Based on our liberty ratings for the PVV’s economic and social policy, the party is a  right-wing to far-right populist party.  The party falls within the “Right” sector instead of the “Authoritarian” sector due to their dedication to lowering taxes and regulations, despite their opposition to balancing the budget.  Socially they fall far inside the “Right” sector due to their restrictions on the freedom of religion for Muslims, anti-immigration policies, and overall nationalist tendencies.

Read our analysis of other Dutch Political Parties:


*Disclaimer: The policy positions in this article have been evaluated using Wikipedia, the party’s own website, Flavia Dzodan’s translation of the party platform, and various articles concerning Dutch politics.  We attempt to rate the parties based on all information that is available, but due to language barriers, lack of information, or simple mistake we may have missed something.  If you feel our liberty ratings or general evaluations are incorrect, please let us know on our contact page or nicely in the comments and we’ll try to fix it.  If you have questions on how these ratings are created, feel free to ask as well.

**Abortion is a topic that is split among the liberty movement, but it is the opinion of this site that it is anti-liberty, and we take that into consideration in our evaluation of parties.  This is a position that we are not looking to debate on this site but that is part of our methodology.

***This spectrum shows economic liberty on the right axis and social liberty on the left axis, so 100 on both axis is “pure” libertarianism and 0 on both axis is pure authoritarianism for example.

Author: Brendan Noble

I am a data analyst, economics major at Hillsdale College, conservative-libertarian, and Young Americans for Liberty Chapter President and Michigan State Chair.

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