Political Party Analysis: Socialist Party (Bulgaria)

The next party we will cover in our analysis of Bulgarian politics is the Bulgarian Socialist party.

Overview and History

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), is the oldest active political party in Bulgaria, being founded back in 1894 as the Communist Party before changing its name in 1990.  With that name change came newer policies, as they abandoned their former Marxist-Leninist far-left ideology and adopted more left-wing socialist policies instead.  Since the foundation of free elections in 1990, they have finished in 1st or 2nd in every parliamentary election, making them one of the strongest parties in Bulgaria and the main opposition to the center-right GERB party.  Their favorite coalition partner is the Turkish-minority Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS).

korneliya-ninova-snimka-vili-nikolov
Korneliya Ninova’s Bulgarian Socialist Party made large gains in 2017 but failed to secure a plurality.  (Photo from Sputnik)

Recent Electoral History and Political Power

National Party Strength Ranking: 2nd

BSP is the 2nd strongest party in Bulgaria following this year’s election.  Details on their control in specific areas are below.

Prime Minister: Since 1990, BSP has led 4 governments, the most recent of which was following the 2013 election.

Parliament: In the 2014 parliamentary elections the party received 15.4% of the vote, 39 out of the 240 seats in parliament, and finished in 2nd place.

In this year’s parliamentary elections, BSP jumped to 27.2% of the vote and 80 seats, but they still finished in 2nd place behind GERB.

President: BSP did not officially have a candidate in the 2016 presidential election, but they endorsed Rumen Radev, an independent.  Radev received 25.44% of the vote in the first round of the election and 59.37% in the second round, winning the office.

European Parliament: BSP is a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 2nd place with 18.93% of the vote, earning 4 out of the 17 seats allocated to Bulgaria.

Projections future Elections

N/A – the next Bulgarian election will be in 2021 if a new one is not called before that.


Economic and Fiscal Policy 

From their name, the Bulgarian Socialist Party supports a socialist economic policy (though more moderate factions within the party are social-democrats instead).  Their policy is based around more government involvement in the economy, as they believe GERB’s more market based policies have failed.  They also call for increasing pensions and higher salaries for public sector workers.

Liberty Rating*: D-

Social and Foreign Policy

BSP’s social policy tends to focus on security.  They have campaigned on increasing border security, especially with Turkey, as conflicts have emerged over the large amounts of refugees and immigrants coming from and through Turkey.  In terms of foreign policy, they are concerned about foreign involvement from the west, Turkey, and Russia in Bulgaria’s politics and wants to bring an end to that; despite this, they do want to end the EU’s sanctions on Russia, and they support working more with Russia as well.

Liberty Rating*:  D+

(There is little other information in English about BSP’s policies.  We will attempt to update this further as we know more, and please contact us if you have information.)

Political Spectrum**

BSP spectrum

 

Based on our liberty ratings for BSP’s economic and social policy, they are a left-wing socialist party is the authoritarian sector.  Their economic policies are socialist and interventionist, placing them solidly in the traditionally left area on economics, but their social policies focus on security and favoritism towards Russia, pushing them into the authoritarian sector instead.

Read our analysis of other Bulgarian Political Parties:


*Disclaimer: The policy positions in this article have been evaluated using Wikipedia, Sofia Globe’s article on the party’s platform, and various articles concerning Bulgarian 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.

**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.

Political Party Analysis: GERB (Bulgaria)

The first party we will cover in our analysis of Bulgarian politics is the center-right GERB party.

Overview and History

Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, better known as “GERB”, is one of the two largest parties in Bulgaria.  GERB represents the center-right with moderate leanings.  The party was founded in 2006 out of the failing remains of former Tsar Simeon II’s NDSV party, and it has received the most votes in every parliamentary election since its founding.  Their recent defeat in the 2016 presidential election caused their Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, to resign, leading to the 2017 parliamentary elections.

Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, Bulgaria
Two-time Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is hoping GERB will be the largest party for the 4th straight election. (Photo from Getty Images)

Recent Electoral History and Political Power

National Party Strength Ranking: 1st

GERB is the strongest party in Bulgaria heading into the election on March 26th.  Details on their control in specific areas are below.

Prime Minister: Boyko Borisov has been Prime Minister twice, leading 2 out of the 3 most recent non-interim governments.  Both times he resigned before his term was up.

Parliament: In the 2014 parliamentary elections the party received 32.67% of the vote, 84 out of the 240 seats in parliament, and finishing in 1st place.

President:  GERB’s candidate, Tsetka Tsacheva, received 21.96% of the vote in the first round of the 2016 presidential election, finishing in second place.  In the runoff, she received 36.16% of the vote, losing to the BPS supported independent candidate.

European Parliament: GERB is a member of the European People’s Party parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 1st place with 30.4% of the vote, earning 6 out of the 17 seats allocated to Bulgaria.

Projections for 2017 Election

Despite GERB’s poor performance in the presidential election, they are expected to remain strong in this year’s parliamentary elections.  That being said, their streak of victories may come to an end, as polls show them in a dead heat with the Socialist Party (BSP).  They are likely to receive the lightly lower results compared to the 32.7% they received in 2014, as opinion polls show them between 28.2% and 31.2%

This result means that they would need a coalition to form a government.  Since a leftist coalition between BSP and DPS would not reach a majority, GERB will probably be taking the lead.  They will need to form a coalition with, or have outside support from, at least 2 of the other right-leaning parties: the right-wing-populist United Patriots, center-right populist Volya party, and center-right Reformist bloc (if they make it into parliament).  Whether such a government would be successful depends on who GERB works with, as the more they have to work with the populists, the less likely things are to work out.

 


Economic and Fiscal Policy 

GERB’s economic policies are moderate when it comes to being a center-right party, and some of their policies even point more towards the center or center-left.  One of these policies is a large increase in the minimum wage.  They are also making a move to double the salaries of teachers throughout the country and change school funding to not be based on purely the number of students attending.  Historically, Borisov and GERB have maintained a strict fiscal policy, improving the country’s credit ratings by imposing often unpopular austerity measures.  They combined these budget cuts with a more business friendly environment in the past, allowing for growth after the crash in 2008.

Liberty Rating*:  C+

Social and Foreign Policy

On social policy, GERB is trying to present a plan that will appeal to the populists, who accuse the Bulgarian government of corruption.  This comes with their plan to remove the immunity from prosecution of members of parliament and creating a commission to investigate the highest members of government.  They also advocate for modernization of the justice system, electronically monitoring criminals, and starting a sentence right after a trial to avoid people escaping.  Their plan to reform the justice system also includes expanding police forces in smaller villages, putting cameras on all traffic police cars, and an expansion of civil asset forfeiture.  In addition to the more economic and fiscal education reforms, they also want to expand the number of psychologists and sports teams at schools, to reduce the prevalence of aggressive actions throughout the country.  On foreign policy they support working more with the European Union against Russia.

Liberty Rating*:  C-

(There is little other information in English about GERB’s policies.  We will attempt to update this further as we know more, and please contact us if you have information.)

Political Spectrum**

GERB spectrum

Based on our liberty ratings for GERB’s economic and social policy, they are a center-right to center party in the moderate portion of the right sector.  Their economic policies seem to combine fiscal responsibility and some interventionist policies, placing them slightly into the right instead of authoritarian sector.  On social policies, they promote more oversight in the government to avoid corruption while also advocating for increased policing and civil asset forfeiture, placing them into the right instead of libertarian sector.  Across the board they are more moderate due to having a mix both traditionally left and right policies.

Read our analysis of other Bulgarian Political Parties:

-Coming Soon-


*Disclaimer: The policy positions in this article have been evaluated using Wikipedia, Sofia Globe’s article on the party’s platform, and various articles concerning Bulgarian 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.

**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.

Classical Liberalism and Populism: A Subjective Review of the Dutch Election

The victory for the classical liberals in the Netherlands is reassuring in a time of populism.

Note: If you’re looking for our analysis of the Dutch election, please go HERE.  This article is an opinion piece.

The stories going into the 2017 Dutch Election were whether the “Dutch Donald Trump,” Geert Wilders, and his Party for Freedom would upend Dutch politics as we know it.  I would like to begin by saying that it is ridiculous to consider Wilders the Dutch version of Trump.  Geert Wilders wants to ban the Quran, close down Mosques, and kick out refugees.  That is not the same thing as Trump’s travel bans.  There are levels to right wing populism like any ideology, and Trump is moderate relative to Wilders and the PVV.  All the media does is anger Trump supporters even more by comparing him to extremists who he doesn’t agree with.

Now, to the Dutch election itself.  How I saw this election was the battling of a few ideological factions: the classical liberals/libertarians, the left, the Christian democrats, and the right wing populists (there’s not a real “conservative” center-right party in Dutch politics).  While I disagree with the very low 0.67% cutoff in the Dutch election (a 5% one gives much more stability), it allows us to really see the spread of opinions across Dutch politics; there is basically no such thing as a wasted vote when 13 parties make it into parliament.  There is something beautiful about that, as you really do have parliament reflecting the opinions of the people, and we get to see how popular those 4 factions are.

My findings are as follows (results from NOS):

  • Classical Liberals (VVD and D66): 33.3% of the vote and 52 seats
  • The Left (SP, GL, Labour, 50Plus, PvdD, and DENK): 32% of the vote and 49 seats
  • Christian Democrats (CDA, CU, and SGP): 18% of the vote and 27 seats
  • Right Wing Populists (PVV, FvD, and VNL): 15.3% of the vote and 22 seat

While there could be more sub-factions (especially in the left), I believe it is enough to look at these four, since each received a significant portion of the vote and is represented in slightly different ways by multiple parties.

mark-rutte
Mark Rutte’s conservative-liberal VVD lead the more libertarian faction with the market friendly social-liberal Democrats 66. (Photo from the Atlantic Sentinel)

As a right-libertarian, I was happy to see the classical liberals as the largest faction, something that is rare across world politics.  I was especially pleased to see the conservative-liberal VVD win the election once again, holding strong against more right wing populist challenges.  While I disagree with the more left-libertarian Democrats 66 on some economic issues, they are far better than the left and some Christian democrats on economics and basically everyone on social issues (except on abortion, in which they are pro-choice).  The fact that these two parties received a third of the votes and hold 52 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives is a great sign, since all the talk lately has been about the right wing populists.  Meanwhile the classical liberals have more silently delivered a win that will likely result in them aligning with the more moderate Christian democrats instead of the left or the right wing populists.  Hopefully this trend continues in the upcoming elections in France and Germany, though the French lack a real right-libertarian party.

It is also satisfying to see the chaos, and lack of success, on the left.  There has not been a leftist Prime Minister since 2002; CDA or VVD have led every government since then.  That situation has not been made any better for them with Labour absolutely falling apart and no one to replace them.  This is an opportunity for the classical liberals and center-right to have strong leadership with a solid majority in favor of market economics (the PVV’s one redeeming factor).  GroenLinks is rising, especially among young people, but there really isn’t a tier 1 party on the left to challenge the VVD for Prime Minister as the Socialist Party (the top left party currently) received only 9.2% of the vote and finished in 5th place.  To be fair, there’s a lot of leftist parties to divide the vote among, but it is difficult to unite your ideology when you’re so divided.  In short, the left in the Netherlands has been relegated to less than a third of the lower house and is not a real threat currently… good.

Meanwhile, the Christian democrats stayed fairly stagnant, as the CU and SGP received the same number of seats as before, but the CDA gained 6 seats.  I tend to be ambivalent at best about Christian democrats, as they tend to be socially conservative, especially the very reactionary SGP, and moderate when it comes to economics, so I’m glad that the VVD has continued to lead the center-right instead of the CDA.  Having the generic “right” led by a classical liberal instead of a Christian democratic party is a positive for both economic and social liberties.  That being said, they at least are somewhat pro-market, so a coalition of classical liberals and Christian democrats will hopefully lead to a more market based economy.

Wilders 2
Wilders’s PVV didn’t live up to expectations.

The right wing populists were the most covered faction in the election, especially from international media, but all the hoopla seems to have been for naught.  The right wing populist “wave” people were talking about seems to be less of a force than expected.  PVV only received 13.1% of the vote, and while they are definitely still a thorn in Rutte’s side, they are far from overturning Dutch politics.  More moderate right wing populists have managed to get a real foothold elsewhere, but Wilders’s extreme views have isolated him and his party, ensuring they have no role in future governments.  Forum for Democracy and For the Netherlands are much more moderate, and it would be best for the right wing populists to follow their path instead of alienating themselves along with Wilders’s blatant anti-Islam policies.  Overall, the 13.1% of the vote the PVV received is still too much.  The right-wing in the Netherlands is missing a free market and socially conservative party as I said before, and I think that is a real void that the PVV is taking advantage of.  If a major party or new party could move to try and fill that void, then the PVV would likely be pushed to the fringes where it belongs.  VNL seemed to be a group that could do that (since they’re more conservative than populist, though they are populist often in rhetoric), but they were too small to really make a different.

Libertarians should be pleased when we look at the results of the Dutch election, and we should learn from it.  The VVD has managed to place itself close enough to the right-wing void where it can appeal to both classical liberals and more traditional conservative who don’t like Wilders’s extremism and the CDA’s more moderate policies.  Mark Rutte has not always lived up to his promises, but his party is definitely the best major party in the country when considering the combination of economic and social policies.  Rutte’s VVD is put in a unique spot due to its more libertarian leanings, as they can align with more center-right and right-wing parties to push for economic liberty as well as D66 and some center-left parties to push for social liberty.  They hold enough seats to have a majority in both of those areas, being able to choose who they work with inside as well as outside of whatever coalition that results.  It is a unique role classical liberal parties play in politics, reaching across the traditional left-right spectrum in ways many social-democratic and conservative parties cannot.  The Netherlands is one of the few places we can see this in action, and we should be happy to have a classical liberal party in power, even if they are not “pure” libertarians.

I will conclude with my thoughts on potential coalitions and how the election will impact other elections coming up this year.

First, the coalitions.  My dream coalition would be between the VVD, D66, and VNL (or the Libertarian Party, which didn’t receive even 0.1% of the vote) as I believe each would bring a unique element that is needed.  Since VNL didn’t make it into parliament and the classical liberals are short of a majority, that is not possible.  In reality, the most likely coalition is VVD, D66, CDA, and a 4th party that has 5 seats or more.  Two parties reasonably would fit the criteria to work with those three, Labour and the Christian Union.  The Labour Party is most likely going to try to avoid being in the government since the populous punished them for allowing the VVD to pass austerity, so the Christian Union will probably be the 4th party.  As I said before, there are many positives, especially on economics for this coalition, and there is potential for D66 to have a positive impact on social liberty as well, combined with the pro-life policies of the other three parties.  This makes me optimistic for the Netherlands, and it will definitely be interesting to watch how things unfold going forward in the country.

The upcoming French and German elections may be impacted by these results, but we can’t be certain.  Firstly, the National Front and Alternative for Germany are both more moderate than the Party for Freedom, so Wilders may have just gone too far.  That being said, 13.1% of the vote is a significant chunk, making it harder for a coalition to form, especially when people refuse to work with the right wing populists.  Alternative for Germany is expected to receive less of the vote than the Party for Freedom did, but the National Front may make larger inroads into French politics.  We will have to wait and see, but for right now, right wing populists in Europe seem to be a thorn in the side of people forming coalitions instead of leading coalitions themselves.

Review: 2017 Dutch Parliamentary Election

Prime Minsiter Rutte’s VVD managed to remain the largest party despite being challenged by populist Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom. (Photo from DW)

With 28 parties on the ballot, the Dutch election was going to be chaotic no matter the result.  An unpopular coalition government combined with the right wing populist “wave” across Europe caused some questions about what the outcome would be (as we discussed in our election preview).  Eleven parties made it into the House of Representatives following the 2012 election, and that number is set to expand this year as well.

The big story of the day is Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative-liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) defending their title of largest party, outperforming polls and our own projections.  Ipsos exit polling showed them at around 31 seats, higher than the polling predictions between 24 and 28 seats, and the updated results from NOS show them at 32 seats.  The right wing populist and anti-Islam PVV also fell outside our predicted range of 20 to 28 seats, being projected to receive only 19 seats.  The last second swing is likely due to the recent controversy involving Rutte kicking out Turkish ministers who attempted to visit, hoping to stop the visiting ministers from impacting the election.  The Dutch overwhelmingly saw it as strong leadership, something Wilders had criticized Rutte for lacking.

The exit polls showed that 13 parties will enter parliament, making future coalition negotiations very difficult.

Updated results via NOS showed that that coalition building may be easier than expected, as the VVD over-performed in combination with the center-right Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and market-friendly liberals Democrats 66 (D66) both rising as well in recent weeks.  These three parties would just short of a majority, and adding the Christian Union (CU) or Labour Party as a 4th coalition member would give them a majority.  This is a far better scenario for the VVD than the 5 or 6 party coalitions we had predicted.

The success of these three parties has been seen as a vote of confidence in favor of the EU and shows that right wing populism may not be as strong as predicted, having serious ramifications for the upcoming French and German elections in which the National Front and Alternative for Germany have upset the norm in each country’s political climate.  The country saw a very high 81% turnout which seems to have worked in favor of the more pro-EU parties instead of the populist ones.

Meanwhile on the left, the left-wing green party, GroenLinks (GL), has grown significantly under the leadership of the young Jesse Klaver.  His youthful energy has made GroenLinks a significant force on the left (rising from 4 to 14 seats), as Labour has collapsed; Labour’s fall from 38 to 9 seats is the largest loss of seats in Dutch political history.  The other leftist parties had little change.  The Socialists may lose one of their 15 seats, the Party for the Animals gained 3 additional seats (bringing their total to 5), 50Plus’s last minute drop in the polls meant that they only gained an additional 2 seats (4 total), and finally the new DENK party entered parliament with 3 seats.  Overall, the election was a defeat for the left, as they in total only earned 50 seats.

Victory
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s “People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy” are celebrating a victory over Wilders’s “Party for Freedom” despite losing seats. (Photo from AP)

In general the right had more success, despite VVD’s losses (33 seats compared to 41 before).  The rest of the right made gains: the Party for Freedom gained 5 seats (20 total), Christian Democratic Appeal gained 6 seats (19 total), Christian Union gained stayed even at 5 seats, the Reformed Political Party stayed even at 3 seats, and the more moderate right wing populist Forum for Democracy entered parliament for the first time with 2 seats.  For the Netherlands received only 0.4% of the vote, failing to break the 0.67% cutoff.

Democrats 66, a more market friendly social-liberal party that is hard to place explicitly on either side of the spectrum, gained 7 seats to reach a total of 19.  They are very likely to be part of whatever coalition that results from the election as they are related to the conservative-liberal VVD.

Party leaders offered their opinions on the results in various fashions.  According to CNN, Wilders took to Twitter, focusing on the gained seats instead of his loss to VVD, stating “PVV voters thanks. We won seats, first victory is in. Rutte hasn’t got rid of me yet.”  The aforementioned Prime Minister considered the election a defeat of populism, “This is a night for the Netherlands… After Brexit, after the US election, we said ‘stop it, stop it’ to the wrong kind of populism.”  The feeling around Europe has also been reassurance that “Nexit” is not the next crisis in the European Union, and the Euro is likely to be stronger following this result.


Winners

Mark Rutte: The Prime Minister’s party suffered the loss of 8 seats, but he managed to use a last minute crisis with the Turkish ministers to his advantage, easily seeing off the challenge of Geert Wilders, who had led in polling for months.  He will most likely be Prime Minister once again, and VVD is currently unchallenged for the top spot in Dutch politics after the fall of Labour.

The Party for Freedom: This may seem like a shock due to the headlines saying Wilders was a dud, but his party finished in second place and gained 5 seats.  They have become a force in Dutch politics and the other parties must be aware of them from now on.  Wilders changed the game, and the talking points, so he won, just not in the way he had hoped.

The European Union: It is safe to say there were worries about the euroskeptics (PVV, SP, and FvD) in the Netherlands.  This election was a barometer of the support for the EU, and populism on the right and the left seems to be weaker than feared.  Those three parties combined gained a net of only 6 seats, hardly a large anti-EU push.

Classical-Liberal/Libertarians: The two parties in the libertarian part of the spectrum, VVD and D66, finished in 1st and 4th respectively.  Combined they lost 1 seat, but in total hold 52 seats now; that is over one-third of the House of Representatives.  With only 2 parties in the ideological faction, they managed to win more seats than both the left (49 seats) and more “pure” right (49 seats if you don’t include VVD).  This makes the Netherlands one of the strongest countries when it comes to classical-liberal parties.

GroenLinks: The Greens have jumped their way into the major party fight, gaining 10 seats and earning 8.9% of the vote.  Despite the fact they only finished in 6th, GL was only 0.3% of the vote away from being the strongest leftist party.  They are on the rise and could be a force to reckon with since there is a void in leadership to fill with Labour falling.

Losers

The Labour Party: Labour suffered the biggest defeat ever seen in Dutch political history, falling from 2nd to 7th place.  They have been the strongest force on the left, but instead they suffered greatly from being the VVD’s junior-coalition partner.

The Left: Connected with Labour, the left in general is chaotic.  There is no longer one party leading it (as the VVD leads the right), and they only hold 49 seats.  Even if you try to lump in D66 with the left, which is debatable, they only hold 67 seats.  If they want to have a chance at leading a government any time soon, there needs to be significant changes made.


Even after the results become official, we won’t know the official coalition for a few weeks to potentially months, as Dutch coalition negotiations are known to take a long time.  We will post an update following the creation of a government as well as update this post when the results are final.  Tomorrow we will also be posting a subjective evaluation of the election apart from our more data focused analysis here.

Sources: CNN, BBC, AP, Bloomberg, Politico Europe, DW, various Twitter stories, and results from NOS.

2017 Bulgarian Parliamentary Election: A Preview

Will the 2017 parliamentary election end the instability of Bulgarian politics?

Overview

Now that we’ve set up the background and overview of Bulgarian politics, we can now take a took at their upcoming parliamentary elections, which will take place on March 26th of this year.

As we discussed in our overview, Bulgarian politics are fluid to the point that no government has been reelected since the fall of communism in 1990.  In fact, governing coalitions are often a minority government and do not even last the full 4 years.  The 4% cutoff allows anywhere between 4 and 8 parties to enter parliament, meaning anywhere from 2 to 4 parties are needed for a majority.  Recently the trend has been the formation of a minority coalition with non-coalition support from a third and/or fourth party.

With only one month left until the election there are still many questions surrounding the potential results and their legitimacy.  After controversy about voter fraud in 2013, it was mandated that voting machines be provided in every polling booth as an alternative to voting via paper, but almost no polling locations have requested a voting machine.  This could cause a problem with the Constitutional Court afterwards and is something to look out for as early voting has already been impacted.

Bulgaria is economically expanding but is facing new obstacles due to Russian sanctions and the political instability.  Business leaders are fearing whether a stable majority will finally be formed, preventing a solid basis for future expectations.  Will stability be created or will the current trend continue?  Let’s take a look.

Beyond the normal economic debates, the main issues of the election, like the presidential election before it, are the EU, Russian relations, and refugees from the Middle East.  Considering the country’s location relative to the Middle East and particularly Turkey, refugees are an increasingly prominent concern.  One of the main parties, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), is actually a party supporting Turkish and Muslim minority interests, showing the growing immigrant population within Bulgaria.

Polling and Projections

Polling
Opinion polls since the start of 2017 predict 5 or 6 parties will make it into parliament.  (Chart from Wikipedia)

Bulgarian polling data does not have an answer to the question of stability.  Currently 5 parties will almost certainly finish about the 4% cutoff point and Reformist Bloc is on the edge.  The current minority coalition of the center-right GERB and the Reformist Bloc (RB) parties, with the support of Patriotic Front and the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV), is unlikely to last due to RB’s drop from 8.89% in the previous election to polling around 4% this year.  Alternative for Bulgarian Revival are also unlikely to break the 4% cutoff and the Patriotic Front electoral alliance has merged with attack to become United Patriots (UP).  While GERB’s Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, was forced to resign due to the results of the presidential election, his party’s popularity has not taken a large hit.  GERB received 32.67% of the vote in 2014 and are currently polling between 28% and 31.5% (depending on what polling company you look at), implying continued support for the party.

GERB’s main rivals, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), are projected to make significant gains compared to the 2014 elections, in which they only received 15.4% of the vote.  Similarly to GERB, they are polling between 28% and 31.6%, making the battle for a plurality a tight race.  DPS, a liberal Muslim party that tends to favor coalitions with BSP, has taken the brunt of BSP’s rise in the polls; they are projected to drop from 14.84% of the vote to approximately 7% to 8.5%.

Two other groups (one alliance and one party) are expected to make it into parliament as well.  One of these is the right-wing United Patriots electoral alliance – consisting of Attack, the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian National Movement.  The latter two parties participated in the Patriotic Front electoral alliance in 2014, and this newer alliance is an attempt to unite the right-wing electoral campaign, preventing Attack from falling below the 4% mark.  Attack’s share of the vote has dropped in recent elections, so preventing them from falling below the 4% total keeps the right-wing stronger in parliament.  Compared to 2014, where the members total received 11.8% of the vote (7.28% for the Patriotic Front and 4.52% for Attack), UP is expected to receive between 9% and 12% of the vote.  Volya (also known as Will), a new party based around Varna-based businessman Veselin Mareshki, is also expected to enter parliament.  According to IntelliNews, “Mareshki describes Volya as a centre-right party of independent pragmatic people.”  Mareshki has also been compared to Donald Trump as an anti-establishment businessman turned politician.  Interestingly, in that IntelliNews article (and according to Novinite) he admitted to giving bribes in “the interest of Bulgarian citizens.”  This means his party has brought some interesting controversy with its rise, and polling data has ranged between 5% and 12% for the party, making it difficult to draw conclusions about the potential results of the party.  Two other parties that made it into parliament in 2014 will most likely not reach the 4% cutoff this year: Bulgaria Without Censorship and the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival.

Mareshi1
Vesselin Mareshki is looking to make a splash in Bulgarian politics with the rise of his Volya party. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Possible Coalitions

The two main factions are the BSP and DPS on the left and GERB, RB, and Volya on the right (plus possibly the member parties of UP if needed).  As we said earlier, the governing coalition is unlikely to continue as GERB and RB are both expected to lose seats.  They received approximately 41.5% of the vote in 2014 and will received around 31% to 34% of the vote this year.  The Reformist Bloc might not even break the 4% threshold, which would be a serious detriment to to GERB’s efforts.  Since Volya is more likely to align with GERB than BSP, their 5% to 12% could bring that vote total up to anywhere between 36% and 46% (it is probable that the three parties will receive combined around 39 to 43% to give a slightly more accurate range).  That will most likely not not be enough to form a majority coalition, especially if RB fails to reach 4%.  BSP’s gains are partly offset by DPS’s losses, but combined they will make gains.  Combined they earned just over 30% of the vote in 2014 and will receive between 35% and 40% of the vote this year.  The result: neither of the main left or right “preferred” coalitions are possible.

Since these pure center-right or center-left coalition are unlikely to receive a majority of seats, there are three possible agreements that could potentially be reached (barring a large swing in the polls between now and election day): A center-right coalition with right-wing (UP) support, a GERB led coalition with various supporting parties, or a center-left coalition with center-right or right-wing support.  The first of these is the most likely as it a similar one to the agreement reached following the 2014 election.  In this situation, the previously mentioned GERB led coalition would receive outside support from all or some of the United Patriots electoral alliance, which (besides Attack) supported the previous GERB led government.  Reminder: support means they agree to vote to approve the prime minister and cabinet, but the party does not receive any cabinet positions.  Assuming most or all of the UP members are willing to support GERB, their support would likely give them the required majority.  We have seen this scenario since 2014 be somewhat stable, but it is not the solid majority coalition that would solve the shakiness of Bulgarian politics.  The second scenario would be similar but there is a different mix of coalition members and supporting parties.  There is precedent for opposition support from DPS for GERB along with a mix of center-right and right-wing coalition partners and supporters.  A variety of outcomes could be possible here; an example is a coalition of GERB and RB with outside support from Volya along with part or all of UP and/or DPS.  The last time this happened was after 2009, when GERB was 4 seats away from the 121 seats needed for a majority and opposition parties gave support.  This would be much more unstable considering the governing coalition would have received less than 40% of the vote, and relying on outside support usually leads to problems.  The final scenario is only if GERB does not have a path to a majority, as this is a long-shot attempt that was tried and failed after the 2013 election.  In this case, BSP and DPS form a coalition (as they did is 2013) and require outside support from the center-right or right-wing to govern.  In 2013, they attempted to create a mostly non-partisan and pragmatic parliament, receiving support from the right-wing Attack party since they only have 120 seats (exactly 50% instead of the needed 50% + 1).  This year, they would need support from either Volya or UP to reach a majority.  The 2013 agreement fell apart quickly, so this would be a shaky deal leading to instability.

Conclusion

To conclude our general preview of the election we must go back to the question of whether the instability of government formation will continue.  The answer is almost certainly yes.  In proportional-style elections that don’t have a solid majority from either main faction we often look for a centrist king-maker party to be a junior-coalition partner for stability, but Bulgaria lacks a party of that style.  DPS seems to the main “3rd party” that could fill that role, but they appear unwilling to form a coalition across ideological lines with GERB (and RB on the other side not working with BSP).  The strength of the right-wing and right-wing-populist parties in Bulgaria make this problem even worse, as they are almost always unwilling to form a stable coalition with the center-right, even if the “right” in total has a majority (as it does here).   These factors mean that the instability of governments that we have seen in the past will continue after the 2017 election, no matter who leads the coalition building.

In our next few posts will will discuss the specifics of each party: their election results, ideologies, liberty ratings, and projections.

Politics of Bulgaria: An Overview

The next country we will focus on in 2017 is Bulgaria, as their election on the 26th of March will be the second major one of the year.

Bulgarian politics are fluid and often unstable.  An assassination attempt in 2013 and three straight early elections are just two parts of the Eastern European country’s fluctuating political atmosphere.  We will provide an overview of the country’s politics ahead of the 2017 election.

Bulgaria normally holds a parliamentary election every 4 years, but early elections were called ahead of schedule due to the resignation of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in November of 2016.   His center-right “Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria” (GERB) party candidate, Tsetska Tsacheva, lost the 2016 presidential election in the second round with only 36.16% of the vote.  Though the president is merely a formality in Bulgarian politics, like most parliamentary republics, the defeat showed that people no longer had confidence in the GERB-led coalition government.

Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, Bulgaria
Former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov was forced to resign for a second time following his party’s defeat in the 2016 presidential elections. (Photo from Getty Images)

In our next post we will give a full preview of the 2017 election, but first we need to examine how the Bulgarian election system works and what the country’s electoral history looks like.

The unicameral parliamentary system Bulgaria uses places the most of the power in the national assembly, which then selects the prime minister with a majority vote.  Members of the parliament are selected from multi-member constituencies via a closed-party list, meaning that people vote for a party instead of an individual, and seats are allocated from each constituency.  Without getting bogged down in the detail, this means that a party (or alliance of parties) needs 4% of the vote to receive a proportional number of seats in the parliament.  Unlike the Dutch system’s 0.67% cutoff that we covered in previous posts, this 4% cutoff places stricter conditions on entering parliament, meaning less parties are usually required to form a governing coalition.  This coalition selects the prime minister, who then forms a cabinet.

Historically, Bulgaria had their first free elections in 1990 with the decline of Soviet Union, making it a relatively young republic.  In 2007, 17 years later, the country joined the European Union along with neighboring Romania, but it is outside of the Eurozone, keeping it someone independent of the Euro crisis and dulling euroskepticism in the country.  That being said, right-wing-populism is present with the creation of the “United Patriots” electoral alliance, consisting of three nationalist parties (Attack, Bulgarian National Movement, and National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria), in 2016.

In parliamentary elections, the government has never been reelected since the fall of communism, displaying the fluid and often unstable nature of Bulgarian politics.  The previous two elections were also early after protests over austerity rattled the GERB led government in 2013, leading to slightly early elections.  The resulting Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and Turkish interest Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) government then resigned in mid 2014 due to more protests, forcing another election.  This inability of three governments in a row to serve for all 4 years is a dangerous trend for the country.

With that historical overview covered, let’s take a deeper look at the previous two parliamentary elections and most recent presidential and European elections to see if a trend emerges ahead of this year’s.

As we covered before, the 2013 election came on the heels of the (first) resignation of Prime Minister Borisov and his GERB party.  Widespread protests and unpopularity of many parties was rampant throughout the country, including an attempted assassination of DPS party leader Ahmet Dhogan during a lived televised speech.  The election saw a large increase in support for the left-wing “Coalition for Bulgaria” electoral alliance (now called “BSP for Bulgaria”), consisting of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and many smaller left-wing parties.  They received 26.61% of the vote and gained 44 additional seats in the national assembly, bringing their total to 84 (out of 240).  GERB received 30.54% of the vote, losing 20 seats and bringing their total to 97 seats, still holding a plurality.  The liberal-center Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) received 11.31% of the vote, losing 1 seat and finishing with 36 seats.  The only other party to finish above the 4% cutoff was the right-wing-populist and pro-Russia “Attack”, who received 7 seats.  Controversy was rampant about voter fraud following the election, causing a rocky start to the resulting BSP and DPS government, which lasted just over a year before dissolving.

assassination-attempmt
DPS Party Leader Ahmet Dhogan survived an assassination attempt ahead of the 2013 election by fighting back against the attacker seen on the right.  (Photo from the NY Daily News)

Just before the dissolution, the government’s popularity (or lack thereof) was presented in the 2014 European parliamentary election in May.  GERB finished with 30.4% of the vote and 6 of the 17 seats, Coalition for Bulgaria (BSP’s alliance) received 18.93% of the vote and 4 seats, DPS received 17.27% of the vote and 4 seats, the new euroskeptic Bulgaria Without Censorship party received 10.66% of the vote and 2 seats, and the new Christian-Democratic Reformist Bloc received 6.45% of the vote and 1 seat.  Attack, who had indirectly supported the government, fell from 11.96% to 2.96%, losing all of their seats in the European Parliament.  The results of the election showed that the already minority coalition between the BSP and DPS did not have even 40% of the vote, and the prime minister resigned by the end of July, only 2 months later.

The BSP’s struggles continued, as 2014 parliamentary election punished the socialists for their unpopular governing.  They fell to 15.4% of the vote (down from their previous 26.61%), finishing with only 39 seats, 45 less than after the 2013 election.  Interestingly, GERB did not benefit directly from BSP’s fall in seats, despite receiving 32.67% of the vote (up 2.13% from 2014), as 8 parties entering the parliament (instead of the 4 after 2013) caused the seats to be more divided among the parties.  They still received 84 seats, far more than their BSP counterparts.  DPS finished close behind BSP with 14.84% of the vote (up 3.53% from 2014) and 38 seats, not receiving the punishment that their senior coalition partner did.  Five other parties managed to receive more than the required 4% of the vote: the Reformist Bloc (8.89% and 23 seats), Patriotic Front (now know as United Patriots:7.28% and 19 seats), Bulgaria Without Censorship (5.69% and 15 seats), Attack (4.52% and 11 seats), and Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (4.15% and 11 seats).  The larger number of parties caused coalition negotiations to be more difficult, but eventually GERB and the Reformist Bloc (RB) formed a minority coalition supported by the Patriotic Front and Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV).  Minority coalitions such as this tend not to last the whole 4 years, and this one was no different.

rumen-royav
The Independent Pro-Russia candidate, Rumen Radev, won a decisive presidential victory with the support of the BSP.  (Photo from PressTV)

The popularity of that minority coalition was tested when Prime Minister Borisov put his hopes in Tsetska Tsacheva for the 2016 presidential election and vowed to resign if she lost.  The two major candidates, the independent but BSP supported Rumen Radev and Tsacheva for GERB, received 25.44% and 21.96% respectively in the first round of the election.  While this was conceivably a close result, the second round was a decisive victory for Radev, who received 59.37% of the vote to Tsacheva’s 36.16% (percentages don’t add up to 100% due to the available “none of the above” option).  The result was considered to be a vote of no confidence for the GERB led government, and Borisov resigned as he promised.

Looking at these elections over the past 4 years gives us a decent overview of where Bulgarian politics is.  There is a constant struggle to hold onto a majority, and the rise of the right-wing-populist “United Patriots” electoral alliance will likely continue to make a majority coalition difficult.  We will have to see if this year’s election, which we will preview in our next post, can change that trend.  Hopefully this has been enough of a basic overview as we begin to cover the Bulgarian election.  After a general preview we will have an analysis of each major party ahead of the election.

More information: Elections in Bulgaria, 2017 Election, Bulgarian National Assembly

Political Party Analysis: Minor Parties (Netherlands)

Next we will cover the minor parties in our analysis of Dutch politics.

 In addition to the parties that we’ve focused on so far, there are a few minor parties that are projected to receive less than 10 seats in the House of Representatives.  We will do a quicker overview of these parties, as they play a part in coalition making and in Dutch politics in general but have a smaller role than the large parties.

Christian Union (CU)

gert-jan_segers
Christian Union Party Leader Ger-Jan Segers (Picture from Wikipedia)

The Christian Union is a centrist Christian Democratic party that combines both center-right and center-left policy positions.  They were founded in 2001 and have been a small party in Dutch politics ever since.  The CU has served as a junior coalition partner once, between 2006 and 2010, as part of the fourth Balkenende cabinet.

Policies*

Some of the CU’s social policies include a one-earner model (government promotion of one parent staying at home with children), opposition to euthanasia, pro-life when it comes to abortion, making soft-drugs illegal, openness to asylum seekers, and defending the creation of private schools.  On foreign policy they oppose further integration with the EU and are soft-euroskeptics.  On economic policy they are more center-left: wanting slightly lower income taxes but encourage state control over education and healthcare.  They are not completely opposed to market forces in these sectors though, unlike the Labour Party.

christian-union-spectrum

(Sources: Wikipedia, Christian Union Policies)

Recent Electoral History

House of Representatives: In 2012 the party received 3.1% of the vote and 5 out of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.  The CU finished in 7th place, and lost 0.1% of the vote from the previous election, keeping the same number of seats.

Senate: The CU won 3 out of the 75 seats in the Senate in the 2015 Senate Election, finishing in 8th place.  Members of the Senate are selected by the states.

European Parliament: The Christian Union is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 8th place with 6.8% of the vote in a joint ticket with the Reformed Political Party (SGP), earning 2 out of the 26 seats allocated to the Netherlands.

State Parliaments: The CU holds 29 out of 570 seats throughout the state parliaments following the 2015 Regional Elections, which makes them the 8th strongest party throughout the states.  They managed to gain 6 seats from the previous elections.

Election Preview

The Christian Union is projected to receive 5 and 7 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2017 election according to opinion polls.  This is little to no improvement for the party compared to the 2012 election, but there is a chance that the CU will be involved in the coalition negotiations, depending on who the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) decides to (or has to) work with.

(March 9th update): The CU is still expected to receive between 5 and 7 seats.

Reformed Political Party (SGP)

The Reformed Political Party is a right-wing Calvinist party whose goal is government based on the Bible.  It is the oldest party in the Netherlands and has always been in the opposition, as the SGP is usually unwilling to negotiate coalition agreements with other parties.

1024px-kees_van_der_staaij
Reformed Political Party Leader Kees van der Staaij (Photo from Wikipedia)

Policies*

The party is reactionary on social issues, holding many views than often lead to it being called a theocratic party by those who criticize it, despite its insistence on the separation of church and state.  Some of these social policies are: opposition freedom of religion and instead emphasizing “freedom of conscious”, the belief that men and women are not equal (but are equal in value) and have different roles in society, support for the head of the household voting instead of universal suffrage, support for the death penalty, regulated free speech, and a pro-life stance on abortion.  On economics they are more center-right, believing in recent and future budget cuts, decreased taxes, assistance for parents that wish to stay home, a social safety net for the elderly, increased restrictions on working age safety nets, increased emphasis on private charity from churches, and store closures on Sundays (their website also doesn’t work on Sundays).

sgp-dutch

(Sources: Wikipedia, SGP Policies)

Recent Electoral History

House of Representatives: In 2012 the party received 2.1% of the vote and 3 out of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.  The SGP finished in 9th place, and gained 0.4% of the vote from the previous election, gaining an additional seat.

Senate: The SGP won 2 out of the 75 seats in the Senate in the 2015 Senate Election, finishing in 10th place.  They gained one seat from the previous election.  Members of the Senate are selected by the states.

European Parliament: The Reformed Political Party is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 8th place with 6.8% of the vote in a joint ticket with the Christian Union, earning 2 out of the 26 seats allocated to the Netherlands.

State Parliaments: The SGP holds 18 out of 570 seats throughout the state parliaments following the 2015 Regional Elections, which makes them the 10th strongest party throughout the states.  They managed to gain 6 seats from the previous elections.

Election Preview

The Reformed Political Party is projected to receive 3 and 4 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2017 election according to opinion polls.  This, like the CU, is little to no improvement for the party compared to the 2012 election, but unlike the CU, the SGP will likely not be involved in coalition discussions due to ideological differences.

(March 9th update): The SGP has been steady in polls and are still projected to receive between 3 and 4 seats.

Party for the Animals (PvdD)

marianne-thieme-prinsjesdag
Marianne Thieme’s testimonial party is looking to make gains in the lower house.

The Party for the Animals is a testimonial party in support of animal rights in the Netherlands.  Since its foundation in 2002, the party has not won more than 2 seats and is seeking more to influence other parties on their single issue than to actually gain significant power.

Policies

The party is overall a generally left-wing party focused on animal rights and environmentalism.  Their policies thus are mainly government control over the agriculture industry and restricted agricultural trade.  The rest of their economic policies follow a very left-wing trend as well, as they advocate for a basic income, keeping the retirement age at 65, green taxes on use of scarce materials combined with a lower income tax for the poor, a a “green balanced budget” ensuring the government at least helps the environment as much as it hurts it, a controlled water board, and opposition to recent budget cuts (and thus a soft opposition to the EU and its budget demands).  On social policy the PvdD is against the death penalty, supportive of freedom of information when it comes to government action, supportive of an open but well controlled acceptance of refugees (especially accepting of children), opposed to mass collection of peoples’ data, supportive of soft drugs, and supportive of gay marriage.

pvdd-spectrum

(Sources: Wikipedia, PvdD Policies)

Recent Electoral History

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.  The PvdD finished in 10th place, and gained 0.6% of the vote from the previous election.

Senate: The PvdD won 2 out of the 75 seats in the 2015 Senate Election, finishing in 9th place.  They gained one seat from the previous election.  Members of the Senate are selected by the states.

European Parliament: The Party for the Animals 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 9th place with 4.2% of the vote, earning 1 out of the 26 seats allocated to the Netherlands.

State Parliaments: The PvdD holds 18 out of 570 seats throughout the state parliaments following the 2015 Regional Elections, which makes them the 9th strongest party throughout the states.  They managed to gain 11 seats from the previous elections.

Election Preview

The Party for the Animals is projected to receive between 3 and 5 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2017 election according to opinion polls.  This would be the largest amount of seats the party has ever held in its short history, but it is unlikely to join in any coalition due to its ideological differences with the VVD.

(March 9th update): Due to a slight increase in the polls, the Party for the Animals is now expected to receive between 4 and 6 seats.

For the Netherlands (VNL)

jan-roos
Journalist and VNL Leader Jan Roos leads his party into their first election. (Photo from AFP)

For the Netherlands is a right-wing euroskeptic party founded in 2014 when two Party for Freedom members of the House of Representatives left to form their own party.  The party is hoping to hold onto its two seats in the 2017 election.

Policies

On policy the VNL describes itself as a classical liberal party but it mixes those ideas heavily with liberal conservatism and (on social issues) national conservatism.  Because of this mix, they advocate the free market in economic policy: a low flat income tax, lower corporate taxes, abolition of the inheritance tax, gift tax, transfer tax, insurance tax and wealth tax, lower regulations on companies, introducing more market influences in healthcare, and privatization of healthcare.  For social policies they highly value security, like their previous PVV party, but hold slightly more moderate views: stopping mass immigration, defending western Judeo-Christian values, equality of men and women, equality of heterosexual and gay people, separation of church and state, and that individual error is on the person, not society to fix.  The party also advocates for leaving the EU.

vnl-dutch-spectrum

(Sources: Wikipedia [Dutch with more info], VNL Policies)

Recent Electoral History

House of Representatives: The party currently holds 2 seats in the House of Representatives after the members left the PVV.

Senate: N/A

European Parliament: N/A

State Parliaments: N/A

Election Preview

For the Netherlands is projected to receive no seats in the House of Representatives in the 2017 election according to opinion polls, but they have reached the 0.67% cutoff in some polls.  This means they will lose at least one if not both of their seats.

(March 9th update): We are now projecting VNL will receive 1 seat, but they still remain on the border of the 0.67% cutoff.

DENK (DNK)

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-07-57-37
The main face of the fledgling DENK party, Tunahan Kuzu, has countered right-wing populist policies with support for the Palestinian state, Muslim countries, and Arab immigrants.  (Photo from Facebook)

DENK is a left-wing party founded by 2 Turkish born members of the House of Representatives who left the Labour Party in 2014.  The main conflict leading to their creation of a separate party was immigration and refugees.  DENK will be hoping to hold their 2 seats in the 2017 election.

Policies*

DENK is a very left-wing party when it comes to social issues, as they support the creation of a “racism database”, creating a program of mandatory community service for those who are discriminatory (doing community service for those they discriminated against), training police in discrimination prevention, forming friendship schools for immigrant and non-immigrant children to meet, replacing the Ministry of Defense with the “Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction”, and acceptance of an equal spread of refugees across the country.  On economic policy they support diversity minimum quotas for women and people with migrant backgrounds, 10% of top corporate officials must come from migrant backgrounds, control over the pharmaceutical industry, reduced regulatory burdens on small businesses, a national bank to give loans to small businesses, abolition of the property tax, maximum of 70% of municipal lands can be owned by big developers, restrictions on rent increases, and reduced international trade.  They also call for the recognition of the Palestinian state and sending 1% of GDP in development aid to poor countries.

denk-spectrum

(Sources: Wikipedia, DENK Policies)

Recent Electoral History

House of Representatives: DENK holds 2 seats in the House of Representatives who left the Labour Party.

Senate: N/A

European Parliament: N/A

State Parliaments: N/A

Election Preview

DENK is projected to receive between 0 and 2 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2017 election according to opinion polls.  This means they will could lose all, half, or none of their seats, but it is highly unlikely that they will gain any seats.

(March 9th update): Recent polling has shown DENK is consistently receiving enough support for us to project they will receive 1 or 2 seats.

Read our analysis of other Dutch Political Parties:


*Disclaimer: The policy positions in this article have been evaluated using Wikipedia, the parties’ own websites, 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.