Political Party Analysis: GroenLinks (Netherlands)

The next party we will cover in our analysis of Dutch politics is the left-wing and eco-friendly GroenLinks.


Overview and History

GroenLinks (GL) is a minor, but growing, left-wing green party in the Netherlands.  Founded in 1989, the party was the result of a merger of four minor left-wing parties, hoping to unite and be a stronger force within the country.  Since its formation, GroenLinks has never received more than 11 seats in the House of Representatives, and its best result was only 7.3% of the vote.  Their lack of success and the inability of the left-wing parties to work together mean that the party has always been in the opposition.  That trend is likely to continue after this year’s election, even though GroenLinks is expected to do very well.

GroenLinks party leader Jesse Klaver will be hoping to celebrate his party’s best result ever in 2017, after suffering a disappointing defeat in 2012. (Photo from Reuters)

Recent Electoral History and Political Power

National Party Strength Ranking: 7th

GL is the 7th strongest party in the Netherlands heading into the election on March 15th.  Details on their control in specific areas are below.

Prime Minister: GroenLinks has always been in the opposition, so they have never had a Prime Minister.

House of Representatives: In 2012 the party received 2.3% of the vote and 4 out of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives, their worst result ever.  GL finished in 8th place, one position worse than the previous election, and they lost 4.3% of the vote and 6 seats.  It was a devastating result for the party as they received only a third of the votes that they had two years earlier and lost most of their seats, falling to the status of a minor party instead of a mid-major one.

Senate: D66 won 4 out of the 75 seats in the Senate in the 2015 Senate Election, finishing in 7th place and losing one seat.  This, again, was a disappointing result for the party, as they failed to gain from the drop in popularity of the Labour Party. Members of the Senate are selected by the states.

European Parliament: GroenLinks is a member of the The Greens-European Free Alliance parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 7th place with 6.9% of the vote, earning 2 out of the 26 seats allocated to the Netherlands.  This was a rather poor election result for GL as they lost 1.9% of the vote and one seat.

State Parliaments: D66 holds 30 out of 570 seats throughout the state parliaments following the 2015 Regional Elections, which makes them the 7th strongest party throughout the states.  It was again a disappointing result for the party, as they lost 4 seats.  They don’t hold the most seats in any states.

Projections for 2017 Election

GroenLinks’s recent disappointments point towards another poor result in the upcoming election, but the opinion polling tells a different story.  Following the 2015 Regional elections, the party began gaining in popularity, doubling its national poll numbers between mid to late 2015 and now, likely due to the continued drop of the Labour Party and more importantly the Socialist Party.  Since their rise, they have stayed steady and we project them to receive around 13 to 16 seats in the House of Representatives, their best result ever, putting them somewhere between 3rd and 5th place, with 4th or 5th being more likely.

(March 9th update): GroenLinks has seen very little movement in the polls, but some polls have shown them slightly higher than 16 seats, so we have changed their projected seats to between 14 and 18 seats.

It is unlikely that GL would serve in a governing coalition due to ideological differences with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), who will likely be leading the negotiations.  They are also unwilling to work with the Party for Freedom, who will likely be the largest party but are unlikely to be able to form a coalition.  A left-wing coalition is also very unlikely due to past the inability of these parties to work together in the past, as well as the fact they would need center-right parties (who would rather work with the VVD) to work with them.  Due to these factors, the GL will likely find itself as part of the opposition yet again.

Economic and Fiscal Policy 

GroenLinks is a left-wing party somewhere between Labour and the Socialist Party when it comes to economics.  Unlike many other leftist parties that simply want to make welfare better and deeper for those on it, GL supports expanding welfare to “outsiders” who do not currently have access to it.  Their plan for unemployment involves one year of unemployment benefits, and if the person has not found a job at the end of the year, the government will provide a minimum-wage (which they also wish to increase) paying job.  For taxes, they advocate large-scale implementation of “green taxes” and a highly progressive income tax, decreasing taxes on the poorest people.  They believe health, sustainability, equality, nature, well being, and climate should all come before economic growth considerations.  To promote their green ideals, they favor starting a Green Investment Bank that only gives aid to companies that meet highly eco-friendly standards.  In terms of trade, the party favors “fair trade” with third world countries, as long as they meet certain standards.  For healthcare they want premiums to be paid through taxes, and market forces in health insurance should be reduced drastically.  Their platform does not present a specific stance on the budget or deficits, but their policies imply increased taxes as well as spending (through the welfare state, investments in green industry, and healthcare premiums being paid by the government) and opposition to austerity cuts.

Liberty Rating*:  D-

Social and Foreign Policy

GroenLinks is more liberal than everyone except Democrats 66 when it comes to social policy.  They advocate caring for the refugees that come into the country in conjunction with helping to solve the international problems that cause the refugees to come in the first place.  In conjunction with this they encourage integration but also want to get rid of the taboos between different cultures, encouraging a multi-cultural society.  To GL, the monarchy is outdated and should be abolished, being replaced with a pure republican system.  On other key social issues they are in favor of legalizing the sale and cultivation of soft-drugs, gay marriage, internet and data privacy, euthanasia (they have worked with D66 closely here), and the expansion of freedom of speech, even for “hate speech” and discriminatory speech in general (but not speech calling for violence).  For foreign policy the party supports the European Union and wants NATO to come under its authority.  It is critical of EU military involvement and wants to reform the Dutch military into a peacekeeping force only.

Liberty Rating*:  B+

Political Spectrum***


Based on our liberty ratings for GL’s economic and social policy, they are a left-wing socialist green party.  They solidly within the “Left” sector on social policy due to their support for gay-marriage, acceptance of immigrants and their culture (as well as refugees), and soft-drug legalization.  For economic policy they fall into the “Left” sector as well due to their interventionist policies, support for progressive taxation, and welfare expansion.

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, 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.

Author: Brendan Noble

I am a political consultant, data-analyst, Hillsdale College economics alumnus, and conservative-libertarian. Twitter: @Brendan_Noble

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