Political Party Analysis: Social Democratic Party (Germany)

Will the “Schulz effect” be enough for the center-left SPD to retake power in Germany? (Photo from T-Online)

Advertisements

Overview and History

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) is the main center-left party in Germany, following a Social-Democratic ideology as their name implies.  They traditionally serve as the main competitor to the center-right CDU/CSU sister parties but currently serve as the junior coalition member in the “Grand Coalition” with the CDU.  The SPD is the oldest party in Germany, as the party was founded in 1863 and was re-founded following World War 2.  The party takes pride in being the main opposition to the rise of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP aka the “Nazis”) during the Weimar Republic.  Since then the SPD has led 6 out of the 18 governments and served as the Union’s junior coalition partners three times.  Their Chancellor-candidate, Martin Schulz, created a “Schulz effect” with his nomination, bringing the SPD into close contention with the CDU, but this high has worn off in recent months.

The SPD’s favored coalition partner is the center-left progressive Green Party, but it is rare that the two parties have a majority at the national level.  They also have formed coalitions with the libertarian Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the past, mainly before the Greens became a larger party.  Over the past few election cycles the SPD has lost more support to the Greens and the left-wing Die Linke party, causing problems for their hopes of retaking the Chancellorship from Angela Merkel, as the SPD and Die Linke have a contentious relationship.  This relationship means they are usually unwilling to work together at the national level, making a center-left and left-wing coalition almost impossible, though the two parties currently govern together in the states of Brandenburg, Thuringia, and Berlin.

A balloon with the logo of SPD is seen as Schulz, top candidate of the SPD for the upcoming federal election, gives a speech in Abensberg
The balloon that was the “Schulz effect” has popped, but can the SPD recover and prevent themselves from losing more ground? (Photo from Reuters)

 Recent Electoral History and Political Power

National Party Strength Ranking: 2nd

The SPD is the second strongest party in Germany heading into the election on September 24th.  Details on their control in specific areas are below.

Chancellor: The SPD has had 3 West German and German Chancellors.  The CDU and the SPD are the only parties to ever have a Chancellor.

Bundestag: In 2017 the SPD received 20.5% of the vote and 153 out of the 709 seats in the Bundestag, dropping 5.2% of the vote.  It finished in 2nd place, behind the CDU, with its worst electoral result since before World War 2.

Bundesrat: States send representatives on behalf of the state governing coalition to vote in the Bundesrat.  The SPD leads 7 of the 16 state coalitions and serves as a junior coalition partner in 4 state.  Effectively they lead coalitions worth 27 of the 69 votes in the Bundesrat and serve as junior coalition partner for 15 votes.

European Parliament: The SPD is a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, the SPD finished in 2nd place, behind the the CDU, with 27.3% of the vote, earning 27 out of the 96 seats allocated to Germany.  They gained 6.5% of the vote and 4 seats.

State Parliaments: The SPD holds 516 out of 1,821 seats throughout the state landtags, which makes them the second strongest party throughout the states.

Projections for 2017 Election

According to opinion polling, the SPD is expected to finish solidly in second place, far behind the CDU/CSU union.  We project they will receive between 21% and 24% of the vote, slightly less than the 25.7% they received 4 years ago.  This is likely due to Die Linke, the FDP, and AfD all being on the rise (AfD is a right-wing party but has stolen voters from almost every party).  Martin Schulz’s “Schulz effect” won’t be enough this time around, as his more progressive stances generated an initial buzz that wore off in time.  The recent debate against Merkel also didn’t go well for him either, driving polls even lower.

As we discussed in our preview of the election, there is a possibility of the continuation of a Grand Coalition if the CDU and FDP don’t earn a majority of the seats and a Jamaica coalition fails.  The SPD will be likely hoping that doesn’t happen as they have suffered as junior coalition partners.  Regardless, they will be disappointed with these polls heading into the election as they were riding high early after Schulz’s nomination only to fall flat in the end.


Economic and Fiscal Policy

The SPD is a solidly center-left party on economic policy.  They follow the idea of intense regulation of the social market economy with an extensive welfare system to support the middle and lower classes.  With this, their platform for 2017 includes a new unemployment allowance for 4 years following the completion of training.  They also call for increased taxation on the rich while decreasing taxes for the poor and middle classes and introducing a tax on financial transactions.  On healthcare the SPD calls for more requirements for the employer to pay for healthcare and on education they call for free education from daycare through masters’ degrees.  On the environment the SPD calls for increased regulations and phasing out of coal power plants.  Minimum wages have to rise, manager salaries must be limited, women must be paid the same as men, and there must be a minimum amount of women on the board of directors of companies.  Finally, the SPD demands that the pension amounts must remain at the current percentage and the retirement age cannot be raised above 67.

 

Liberty Rating*: D

Social and Foreign Policy

The SPD is again a center-left party on social issues but does hold some center to center-right policies as well.  On the hot issue of immigration, the SPD calls for increased aid for refugees, openness to asylum grants, and the continued allowance of dual citizenship for two generations.  Interestingly it adopts a traditionally more rightist policy of a point-based system for immigration in general though.  They also want 15,000 new police stations and increased counter-terrorism tools though do not advocate complying with the 2% of GDP military spending mandate from NATO.  The SPD is very pro-EU, calling for a common EU economic policy and the powers of the EU parliament should be expanded.  A unique position of the SPD is their calling for a voting age of 16 instead of 18 as well.

Liberty Rating*:  C

Political Spectrum**

SPD Spectrum

Based on our liberty ratings for the SPD economic and social policies, they are are a center-left Social Democratic party.  They hold both center-left as well as some left-wing economic policies, causing the it to fall slightly inside the “moderate-left” sector instead of the “left” sector.  Socially, they fall inside of the “Moderate-left” sector sector due to their mix of open asylum policies as well as center-right immigration and security policies.


*Disclaimer: The policy positions in this article have been evaluated using Wikipedia, the party’s own website, and various articles concerning Germany 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: Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (Germany)

The sister parties forming “The Union” have a long history, full of sibling squabbles and successes.

Overview and History

“The Union” is the combination of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union.  The former runs in every state but Bavaria and the latter runs only in Bavaria, effectively acting as one party electorally while having slightly different ideologies.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is a center-right Christian Democratic party that has moved more towards the center in recent years due to working with the Social Democrats in the Grand Coalition.  It historically has been the largest party since it’s foundation in West Germany in 1945 following World War 2.  It is the ideological successor to the Centre Party which was a major party in the Weimar Republic.  It has led 12 out of 18 governments since the end of World War 2, winning an absolute majority once, in 1957, and the CDU is the only party that has done so.  They previously led the government in a coalition with the Christian Social Union and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), who is their main electoral rival, following the 2013 federal election.

The Christian Social Union (CSU) is also a center-right Christian Democratic party, but they have a more Catholic base (along with Bavaria) and are more socially conservative and fiscally interventionist than their CDU counterparts.  As the CDU was the successor the the Centre Party, the CSU is the successor to the Weimar Republic’s Bavarian People’s Party, which also was an independent sister party to the Centre Party.  The CSU has dominated Bavarian politics, winning an absolute majority in the state elections 13 times and forming a coalition with the Free Democrats when they fall short.

The relationship of the two parties has overall be friendly throughout their history, despite their slight differences.  Relations have been strained over Merkel’s recent immigration policy, though, as the CSU disagreed with her more open policies towards refugees.  There have always been some sibling squabbles between the sister parties and occasionally rumors of separation occur in the CSU, but threats of the CDU running against them in Bavaria are enough to keep the parties from bickering most of the time.

They had one of their worst electoral performances in party history in the 2017 election and are currently in negotiations with the CSU, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Greens to form the country’s first 4 party coalition government.

1200px-Angela_Merkel_Juli_2010_-_3zu4
Angela Merkel has been one of the longest serving Chancellors in German history and has served as a stable hand in times of European turmoil.  (Photo from Wikipedia)

 Recent Electoral History and Political Power

National Party Strength Ranking: CDU: 1st, CSU: 7th

The CDU is the strongest party and the CSU is the 7th strongest party in Germany following the federal election on September 24th of 2017.  Details on their control in specific areas are below.

Chancellor: Angela Merkel has served as Chancellor since 2005.  Overall the CDU has had 5 West German and German Chancellors.  The CSU has never had a Chancellor.

Bundestag: In 2017 the CDU received 26.8% of the vote and 200 out of the 709 seats in the Bundestag, down 7.3% of the vote and its worst result since 1949.  It still finished in 1st place, ahead of the SPD.  The CSU received 6.2% of the vote, entirely from Bavaria, and 46 seats, down 1.2% of the vote.  Together they earned 246 seats and 32.9% of the vote.

Bundesrat: States send representatives on behalf of the state governing coalition to vote in the Bundesrat.  The CDU leads 6 of the 16 state coalitions and serves as a junior coalition partner in 1 state.  Effectively they lead coalitions worth 26 of the 69 votes in the Bundesrat and serve as junior coalition partner for 6 votes.  The CSU holds an absolute majority in Bavaria, controlling 6 Bundesrat votes.

European Parliament: The CDU and CSU are members of the European People’s Party parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, the CDU finished in 1st place, ahead of the SPD, with 30% of the vote, earning 29 out of the 96 seats allocated to Germany.  They dropped 0.7% of the vote and lost 5 seats due to the Constitutional Court allowing parties receiving less than 5% of the vote to receive representation in the European Parliament.  The CSU finished in 6th place with 5.34% of the vote and 5 seats.  They lost 1.9% of the vote and 3 seats.

State Parliaments: The CDU holds 532 out of 1,821 seats throughout the state landtags, which makes them the strongest party throughout the states.  The CSU holds 101 of the 180 seats in Bavaria, which technically means they hold the 7th most state landtag seats.

 

 


Economic and Fiscal Policy

The Union remains fairly center-right on economic policy, emphasizing that they want full employment by 2025.  They also call for billions of more euros for schools and investment in research universities outside of cities to encourage living in rural areas.  They call for a continuation of Germany’s balanced budget without increasing taxes, except increasing the limit on taxable income slightly.  They believe a priority should be decreasing the German national debt.  The CDU holds the bureaucracy as an important part of the German economy and favors a “social market economy” with regulations to ensure the economy works for the people.  This is done through a large safety net and keeping unemployment low.  They also continue to call for privatization of most if not all state controlled companies.  On housing, they call for alleviation of the tax on purchasing a home for young families purchasing their first house as well as allowing property owners building apartments to write off more of their property taxes.  On many issues, though, they have compromised with the Social Democrats and regulated things such as passing a regulation setting a minimum quota for women on the board of companies.  They have accepted and want to work towards the Paris Climate Accord’s goals as well without banning certain types of cars.

Liberty Rating*: C+

Social and Foreign Policy

The CDU and CSU split more on social policy (as the CSU is slightly more conservative), but the majority of their platform is still the same.  Both emphasize the role of the family in German culture and advocate increasing the child allowance by around 1,500 euros per child.  This is largely to combat the shrinking German birth rate.  On security they both advocate increasing the amount of police officers as well as increasing video surveillance in public areas and punishing crimes more harshly.  In terms of internet monitoring they advocate more data retention and blocking more internet searches.  While gay marriage has been legalized as part of its coalition with the SPD, the Union is resistant to complete equality on tax law and adoption.  While the Union was very accepting of refugees during the refugee crisis, the CDU calls for more integration and a more point based system of immigration.  On European policy, the CDU is a staunch advocate for continued European integration and strengthening of the EU in general.  They are very pro United States on foreign policy and willing to be involved in coalition wars.  They have called to increase the military budget to the 2% of GDP mandated by NATO.

Liberty Rating*:  D+

Political Spectrum**

CDU and CSU Spectrum

Based on our liberty ratings for the CDU and CSU’s economic and social policies, they are both center-right Christian Democratic parties, with the CSU being slightly more socially right and economically center.  They hold both economically liberal and interventionist policies, causing the it to fall slightly inside the “Right” instead of the “Authoritarian” sector.  Socially, they fall inside of the “Moderate” sector sector due to their mix of immigration policies, devotion to the family, supporting the EU, and compromising while not out rightly supporting gay marriage.


*Disclaimer: The policy positions in this article have been evaluated using Wikipedia, the party’s own website, and various articles concerning Germany 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: 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.

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.

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.