Daily Archives: June 5, 2009

Europe 2009: Netherlands

The Netherlands, which has 25 MEPs (down from 27) voted today, the first country, along with the United Kingdom, to vote in these European elections.

The Netherland, which you probably know for it’s legal drugs, prostitution, gay marriage and the like, has a number of political parties. The two main parties, currently coalition partners (along with a smaller party) are the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and Labour (PvdA). The CDA is a modern slightly conservative Christian democratic party, with strongest support from Catholics (26-31% of the population) in Southern Brabant and Limburg. Labour has become a party very similar to the New Labour in the United Kingdom and is based in the Dutch working class, in cities, and the northeastern provinces of Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe.

The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, most commonly known as VVD, is a centre-right strongly neo-liberal party that is generally more conservative-leaning on social issues. While the current VVD leader, Mark Rutte, is a social liberal, the VVD has a strongly anti-immigration conservative-populist wing (though that wing often splits off into splinter parties).

The GreenLeft (GroenLinks) is the main green party, which is “left-green” party – very socially liberal, youth-oriented, pro-immigration, anti-nuclear and so forth. The GroenLinks are especially strong in large university towns and in the homosexual community. The Socialist Party (SP) was founded as a Marxist party, though it has become a democratic-socialist party attracting a number of left-wing voters who used to support the PvdA when the PvdA was more left-wing.

The Netherlands have two Protestant “testimonial” parties – the ChristianUnion and the Reformed Political Party (SGP). The ChristianUnion is socially conservative, though it has more left-wing economic, immigration/international aid and environmental policies. ChristianUnion is a member of the current government. The SGP is probably one of the craziest party in the world – though its legislators are not raving lunatics and are quite sane in debates apparently. The SGP is radically pro-life, against television-radio, gambling, vaccinations, women’s suffrage (women and men are of equal value, but not equal. Women membership was forbidden until 2006), freedom of religion, pro-death penalty and closes its website on Sundays. The SGP also supports a theocracy, and therefore rejects any participation in any government.

In radical opposition to the SGP you have Democrats 66 (D66), an economically centrist and socially liberal/libertarian party, which is also strongly “green” and pro-Europe (favouring a federal Europe). D66 has a very volatile young (female and well-educated) electorate, with lows at 1% and highs at 14-15%.

The new force in Dutch politics is the Party for Freedom (PVV) founded by VVD populist Geert Wilders. Wilders and the PVV are known for their radically anti-Islam policies, they support a halt of immigration from non-western countries and are very assimilationist. It is economically liberal (tax cuts, no minimum wage, limiting child benefits). Wilders seems to be the heir to the heritage of the late Pim Fortuyn, an anti-immigration (although socially liberal) politician whose paty (LPF) had a rapid rise (and fall, following his assasination). However, Wilders is much more radical than Fortuyn.

Lastly, the Party for the Animals (PvdD), an animal rights party, has two seats in the Lower House. The PvdD is the only animal rights party in the world with parliamentary representation.

The results of the last 2004 Euro election was:

CDA 24.43% (-2.51%) winning 7 seats (-2)
Labour 23.60% (+3.48%) winning 7 seats (+1)
VVD 13.20% (-6.49%) winning 4 seats (-2)
GroenLinks 7.39% (-4.46%) winning 2 seats (-2)
Europe Transparent 7.33% winning 2 seats
Socialist 6.97% (+1.93%) winning 2 seats (+1)
ChristianUnion/SGP 5.87% (-2.86%) winning 2 seats (-1)
D66 4.25% (-1.55%) winning 1 seat (-1)
Party for the Animals 3.22%

The Netherlands has already released progressive count results and as of now, the results are as follows:

CDA 20% winning 5 seats (-2)
PVV 16.9% winning 5 seats
Labour 12.2% winning 3 seats (-4)
D66 11.3% winning 3 seats (+2)
VVD 11.3% winning 3 seats (-1)
GroenLinks 8.8% winning 2 seats (nc)
Socialist 7.1% winning 2 seats (nc)
ChristianUnion/SGP 7% winning 2 seats (nc)
Party for the Animals 3.5%

Turnout is stable at 40% (39.26% in 2004).

A great night for the PVV, an horrible night for the governing parties (CDA and PvdA, less so for CU). The Socialists have also fallen about 10% since they won a surprising 16% in the 2006 elections. And the D66 is now in an upswing period, after years of near death (which come when D66 joins government coalitions).

For fun, results in Amsterdam:

Amsterdam: D66 21.2%, GL 20%, Labour 14.7%, PVV 12.7%, VVD 9.2%, SP 8%, Animals 5.3%, CDA 4.9%

This is the first post in a very, very long and slow series on the European election results. And this is probably not the last you hear of the Netherlands.