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.

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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.

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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

Political Party Analysis: 50Plus (Netherlands)

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

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.

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.

jesse_klaver_anp-47351879
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***

groenlinks-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.

Political Party Analysis: Democrats 66 (Netherlands)

The next party we will cover in our analysis of Dutch politics is the social-liberal Democrats 66 (D66).

Overview and History

Democrats 66 (D66) is a mid-major center-left to center social-liberal party in the Netherlands.  Their name comes from their foundation year, 1966, and they have been a smaller power in Dutch politics ever since.  Usually holding seats in the single digits or low double digits, they have been a part of the government just under half the time, usually with Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).  They hit the lowest point in their history in 2006, when they received only 2% of the vote and 3 seats in the House of Representatives, but have recovered in subsequent elections and will hope to continue increasing in influence after their victory in the 2014 European Elections.

d66-pic
D66 European Parliament Leader Sophie in ‘t Veld (left) and Party Leader Alexander Pechtold (right) celebrated the party’s best ever European Parliament result in 2014. (Photo from Flickr)

Recent Electoral History and Political Power

National Party Strength Ranking: 5th

D66 is the 5th strongest party in the Netherlands heading into the election on March 15th.  Details on their control in specific areas are below.

Prime Minister: The Democrats have been the junior partner in multiple coalitions, but they have never had a Prime Minister.

House of Representatives: In 2012 the party received 8% of the vote and 12 out of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.  D66 finished in 6th place, the same position that they had in the previous election, but they gained 1.1% of the vote and 2 seats.

Senate: D66 won 10 out of the 75 seats in the Senate in the 2015 Senate Election, a massive victory for the party as they doubled their seats in the chamber and finished in 3rd place.  This was only the second time in the party’s history that it reached double digits in the Senate. Members of the Senate are selected by the states, showing D66’s recent growth at the state level.

European Parliament: Democrats 66 is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 1st place with 15.4% of the vote, earning 4 out of the 26 seats allocated to the Netherlands.  This was the best result the party has ever achieved in the European parliamentary elections, earning 4% more of the vote than in 2009 and gaining 1 seat.

State Parliaments: D66 holds 67 out of 570 seats throughout the state parliaments following the 2015 Regional Elections, which makes them the 4th strongest party throughout the states.  Leading into their success in the Senate elections, these results were a huge result for the party, as they gained 25 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

D66’s recent success in the 2014 European elections and both the 2015 State and Senate elections has expectations high for the 2017 election.  Opinion polling indicates that those expectations may be achieved, as we project that D66 will receive between 14 and 18 seats in the House of Representatives.  This would be their best result since 1994 and put them in 3rd or 4th place, depending on the results of the CDA, who polling at very similar levels to D66.  They have likely benefited slightly from the falling popularity of both Labour and the VVD, as D66 is somewhere between the two ideologically.

(March 9th update): D66 has has a slight bump in the polls since January.  They are now expected to receive between 16 and 21 seats.

As long as things don’t dramatically change between now and the election, D66 will be part of the resulting coalition.  As they have worked with VVD in the past, they will be one of the first parties approached, along with the CDA, to begin the negotiations.  The resulting coalition would likely be the VVD/D66/Christian-Democratic/Labour or 50Plus coalition we mentioned in our general preview of the election   They have also ruled out a coalition with the PVV, meaning the VVD is likely to be the only party possible to lead negotiations.


Economic and Fiscal Policy 

Democrats 66 supports a somewhat mixed style economy, specifically a market basis with regulation.  This mix comes across in their banking policy, as they support increased oversight and supervision over banks, but they also support allowing alternative credit institutions (example: credit unions) to form and reducing the amount of deposits that the government insures.  In terms of the market in general they want to make it easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs, reducing red tape for startups, even guaranteeing approval if the government does not review a startup’s creation fast enough, and lowering the employee benefit requirements for small businesses.  They also advocate a reduction of the income tax (for lower and middle classes), a short-term safety net for unemployed, education vouchers for long-term unemployed (to discourage early retirement), and promotion of private investments and retirement funds.  For education in general D66 wants the limited introduction of more competition to help the quality of options available.  They have helped implement healthcare reform by introducing limited market forces and freedom to choose your doctor while still advocating a basic required plan.  In terms of environmental regulations, they favor expansion of them to reduce the Netherlands’s impact on global warming.  D66 also wants to encourage free(er) trade in and out of the European Union.  Finally, on the budget they advocate for more fiscal responsibility and reduction of the debt.

Liberty Rating*:  C+

Social and Foreign Policy

Modernization of the Dutch Constitution and social policy is key for D66.  Through this they want to lift the ban on speech against the monarch, force the royal family to pay taxes, and abolish the indirectly elected Senate.  D66 also wants to end the ban on hate speech and blasphemous speech. They also strongly advocate for privacy rights, stating that all digital communications are private unless specific suspicion arises, but judicial review is still required.  They are very liberal on drug policy, advocating the eventual decriminalization or legalization of all drugs under heavy regulation.  They are also pro-choice**, supportive of euthanasia, and in favor of regulated prostitution.  On immigration they are very accepting but advocate for more EU border security cooperation, a more fair spreading of refugees across the EU, and an overall united policy for refugees across the EU.  For their European policy in general, they want increased integration: one airspace over all of the EU, more united military (at least communication), shared police and intelligence information, and more power to the European Parliament.  They are generally opposed to intervention but support limited military involvement to stop terrorism.

Liberty Rating*:  A-

Political Spectrum***

d66-spectrum

Based on our liberty ratings for D66’s economic and social policy, they are a center-left to center social-liberal party with a very pro-EU policy.  They solidly within the “Libertarian” sector on social policy due to their support for gay-marriage, acceptance of refugees and immigrants, and especially calling for the decriminalization (with regulation) of all drugs.  For economic policy they fall into the “Libertarian” instead of the “Left” sector due to their support for reduced regulations on small businesses, lowered income taxes, and freeing up alternatives in the credit industry.

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.

Political Party Analysis: Socialist Party (Netherlands)

The next party we will cover in our analysis of Dutch politics is the left-wing Euroskeptic “Socialist Party” (SP).

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.

emile-roemer
SP party leader Emile Roemer will be hoping to capitalize on the Labour Party’s decline in the polls.  (Photo from ANP)

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

Political Spectrum***

sp-dutch-spectrum

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:


*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.