Overview and History
The Dutch Socialist Party (SP) is, as its name implies, a left-wing democratic socialist party. Founded in 1971, it failed to win any seats in the House of Representatives until it dropped its original “Marxist-Leninist” title and slightly moderated its platform to democratic-socialism. Their initial entry into the House of Representatives occurred in 1994, as the Labour Party began moving into the center-left, making the SP an alternative option for left-wing voters. They only received 1.3% of the vote in that election, enough for 2 seats in the chamber, but they have grown since then and are now a mid-major party, solidifying their place within Dutch politics. They have never served in a governing coalition and are opposed to working with both the VVD and PVV.
Recent Electoral History and Political Power
National Party Strength Ranking: 6th
The SP is the 6th strongest party in the Netherlands heading into the election on March 15th. Details on their control in specific areas are below.
Prime Minister: The SP has always been in the opposition, so it has never had a Prime Minister.
House of Representatives: In 2012 the party received 9.7% of the vote and 15 out of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives. The SP finished in 4th place, higher than their 5th place finish in the previous election, but they also lost 0.2% of the vote.
Senate: The SP won 9 out of the 75 seats in the Senate in the 2015 Senate Election, finishing in 5th place, gaining a seat and beating the center-left Labour Party for the first time. Members of the Senate are selected by the states.
European Parliament: The Socialist Party is a member of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left parliamentary group in the European Parliament. In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 5th place with 9.6% of the vote, earning 2 out of the 26 seats allocated to the Netherlands. This was an improvement for the party, gaining 2.5% of the vote, though they did not earn any extra seats.
State Parliaments: The SP holds 70 out of 570 seats throughout the state parliaments following the 2015 Regional Elections, which makes them the 3rd strongest party throughout the states. This was a very positive result for the party, as they gained 14 seats throughout the regional parliaments. They also hold the most seats (or are tied for the most seats) in 1 out of 12 states.
Projections for 2017 Election
Despite the collapse in the Labour Party’s support, the Socialist Party is actually expected to potentially lose seats according to opinion polling. This is surprising, considering the parties are traditionally considered closely related, often having voters shifting between them. Instead, it seems most of the lost Labour Party voters have gone to GroenLinks, a rising left-wing green party, and 50Plus, a center-left pensioners’ party. Our projections are for the SP to receive between 10 and 14 seats in the House of Representatives, compared to their 15 currently held seats. This would be a disappointment for the party, as they have failed to capitalize on their relative success in the 2015 State Parliament elections; the left-wing of Dutch politics will be very divided, with potentially 5 parties receiving more than 10 seats in the chamber.
(March 9th update): The Socialist Party has had very little movement in the polls. They are now expected to receive between 11 and 15 seats.
It is unlikely that the SP would take part in a coalition, as they have rules out working with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, who will likely be leading the coalition talks. The only coalition they could potentially be a party of is the green/left/social-liberal/Christian-Democratic coalition that we all but ruled out in our general preview of the election, so expect to see the socialists in the opposition again.
Economic and Fiscal Policy
The Socialist Party’s economic policies are implied in the name of the party, but general socialist policies can vary from country to country. Starting with healthcare, the SP advocates the banning of profits for hospitals and a single-payer universal healthcare system. They also want people to have the choice of their doctor under the state provided healthcare plan. When it comes to taxes, they advocate a highly progressive income tax, introducing an extra, higher, rate for the ultra-rich and increasing rates for the richest tax brackets as a “solidarity” tax, reducing available income tax deductions, increasing corporation taxes (but not for small businesses), ending access to tax havens, creating and expanding capital gains taxes, and implementing “green” taxes. In response to the banking crisis in 2008, the party calls for intense regulation of banks, including a government agency to approve or deny potential investment options. They hope these increased taxes help move the country towards a more balanced budget, as they call for a max deficit of 3% of GDP and max debt of 60% of GDP. As socialists, they advocate government control over the commanding heights in the economy, choosing where to invest the country’s resources and avoiding what they consider wasteful private investment. They advocate for a maximum salary on the top-management within companies as well. Interestingly, they are also a soft-Euroskeptic party, meaning that they advocate for the Netherlands to leave the Euro, while remaining in the EU. The SP also calls for increased minimum wages with no exceptions. For higher education, they want increased funding and aid to finance students. A unique policy from them is the creation of a national investment bank to make loans to small businesses only. For retirement care they advocate the abolition of private competition in the market, with the government providing the needed services. Also for the elderly (and disabled), they support government owned (and paid for) housing. They also call for the retirement age to stay at 65 (reversing the current legislation which increases it over time).
Liberty Rating*: E
Social and Foreign Policy
Socially, the Socialist Party is very in favor of immigration and refugee seekers. They believe all asylum seekers are entitled to humane care and potential permanent residency if a long-term return to their home country is possible. In terms of prison reform, they advocate rehabilitation ahead of pure punishment, especially for youth. They support gay-marriage as well as access to a publicly paid for lawyer if a defendant cannot afford one. In terms of foreign policy, the SP supports increased involvement with the UN on peacekeeping missions but opposed (and opposes) military interventions such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They advocate the banning of unmanned military drones in the EU and a ban on weapons exports to non-democratic countries. Interestingly, they also advocate a near abolition of the monarchy, at least reducing their influence and requiring the family members to pay taxes.
Liberty Rating*: B
Based on our liberty ratings for the SP’s economic and social policy, they are a left-wing democratic-socialist party with some left-wing populist policies. They fall solidly within the “Left” sector on social policy due to their support for gay-marriage, acceptance of refugees and immigrants, and emphasis on rehabilitation for youth criminals. For economic policy they are not moderate due to their socialist controls over sectors of the economy such as healthcare and general development.
Read our analysis of other Dutch Political Parties:
- People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD)
- Labour Party
- Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA)
- Party for Freedom (PVV)
- Democrats 66 (D66)
- GroenLinks (GL)
- 50Plus (50+)
*Disclaimer: The policy positions in this article have been evaluated using Wikipedia, the party’s own website, 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 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.