Political Party Analysis: 50Plus (Netherlands)

The next party we will cover in our analysis of Dutch politics is the center-left pensioner party, 50Plus.

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Overview and History

50Plus (50+) is a minor, but growing, center-left to center populist party advocating mainly for the rights of pensioners, thus the name of the party.  The party was founded in 2009, mostly out of former members of the Labour Party, and participated in its first elections in 2011.  Their main ideological neighbor is Labour because of this, and 50+ has been attempting to siphon off some of Labour’s support for themselves.  In the short history of the party they have had very little success, as they earned only 2 seats in the House of Representatives after the 2012 elections, and one of those representatives left the party, leaving them with only one seat.  It is safe to say that they do not currently seem very powerful, but that is due to change with the 2017 election.

henk-krol
New 50Plus Party Leader Henk Krol is hoping that his party can enter Dutch politics as a real force following the 2017 election.  (Photo from ANP)

Recent Electoral History and Political Power

National Party Strength Ranking: >10th

50Plus is a minor party in the Netherlands heading into the election on March 15th.  Details on their control in specific areas are below.

Prime Minister: 50Plus has not served in a coalition since its creation, so it has never had a Prime Minister.

House of Representatives: In 2012 the party received 1.9% of the vote and 2 out of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.  50+ finished in 11th place, the last party to make it past the 0.67% threshold to enter the chamber.  One of their representatives left the party, leaving them with only one seat.

Senate: 50+ won 2 out of the 75 seats in the Senate in the 2015 Senate Election, finishing in 11th place and interestingly having more seats in the Senate than the House.  Members of the Senate are selected by the states.

European Parliament: 50Plus is not a member of any parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 10th place with 3.7% of the vote, earning 0 out of the 26 seats allocated to the Netherlands.

State Parliaments: 50+ holds 14 out of 570 seats throughout the state parliaments following the 2015 Regional Elections, which makes them the 11th strongest party throughout the states.  They managed to gain 5 seats from the previous elections.  They don’t hold the most seats in any states.

Projections for 2017 Election

5oPlus does not have much of a record to improve on as they are such a small party, but opinion polling points to a large growth in their support.  Following the crash in the Labour Party’s support in late 2013, 50Plus’s support spiked to show them earning 18 seats, but they returned to lower levels in mid-2014.  Since then, they have slowly risen in the polls.  Currently, we project them to receive between 9 and 11 seats in the House of Representatives, putting them between 6th and 8th.  Even a worst case scenario for them would quadruple their 2 seats earned in 2012.

(March 9th update): Over the past month 50Plus has dropped significantly in the polls.  They are now expected to only receive between 4 and 6 seats.

It is very possible that 50Plus will be part of the coalition that results from the election.  The exact results will make a large difference, but the projected coalition from our election overview will likely apply: the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) leading with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the Christian Union (CU), Democrats 66 (D66), and either one or both (depending on specific results) of Labour and 50Plus.  This would be the first time 50+ is involved in coalition negotiations, so we can’t know for sure how willing they will be to work with the VVD, who have helped institute the increase in the retirement age (the exact opposite of 50Plus’s most important policy).


Economic and Fiscal Policy 

50Plus’s focus and main policy positions are the reduction of the retirement age back to 65 years old, which they claim will increase employment of youth, the strengthening of the state provided pension for retirees, and protections for the pension programs that currently exist.  In continuation of this focus, their other policies also revolve around assisting those over the age of 50, including making hiring of older workers easier, a stimulus package to assist and train older workers, and increased government hiring of these workers.  They also advocate tax reform to benefit elderly workers and pensioners, including repealing the inheritance tax and capital tax and reforming the sales tax.  For healthcare they advocate the rolling back of market involvement in the industry, as well as multiple other reforms to assist  the elderly.  They extend this policy to be against privatization in general unless it is in the interest of society at large.  Government should fight poverty using all potential means, as 50Plus advocates large expansions in welfare.  When it comes to fiscal policy they advocate for a reduction in the debt to 60% of GDP to be more sustainable in the long run.

Liberty Rating*:  D

Social and Foreign Policy

50Plus is more conservative when it comes to social policy, combining some liberal positions with more overall conservative ones.  Some of those liberal positions include a very regulated legalization of euthanasia (only used when there are no medical options), extremely regulated allowance of marijuana, and introduction of binding referendums.  For hard-drugs they advocate increased crackdowns to prevent any further expansion of drug trade, along with general increases in police forces throughout the country.  When it comes to immigration the party is more conservative, advocating stringent criteria for accepting refugees and requiring deportation of economic refugees as well as anyone denied asylum.  Along with that, they want the Dutch borders to be strengthened, despite their desire to remain in the European Union, and advocate expanded restrictions on duel citizenship.  In general the want to restrict the EU’s extension into policy by decreasing the number of seats in its parliament and giving it only power over economic, monetary, energy, and border policies.  When it comes to fighting terrorism, the party advocates large increases in surveillance, including requiring a digital passport for anyone to access the internet, and proactive use of the police and military to stop any potential terrorist action.  50Plus also calls for restrictions on discrimination for any reason, even for age.  Some other unique policies include a reduction in speed limits, a banning of fireworks for individuals, an increase in the cutoff for the House of Representatives to 3% (from the current 0.67%), and reducing the size of the chamber from 150 to 100 members.

Liberty Rating*:  D+

Political Spectrum***

50plus-spectrum

Based on our liberty ratings for 50+’s economic and social policy, they are a center-left pensioner’s party in the “Authoritarian” Sector.  They are within the “Authoritarian” instead of “Left” sector for social policy due to their restrictive immigration policy, expansion of surveillance and internet restrictions, and restrictions on duel citizenship.  For economic policy they fall into the “Authoritarian” sector as well due to their devotion to lowering the retirement age, expanding government supplied pensions, support for welfare, and general opposition to privatization.

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

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