The March 15-17 Elections Oversimplified

(Collage by Charlotte Görl)

This is the second article in the Herring’s election coverage, for information on some of the terms used and an overview of the Dutch state see: A King, a Prime-Minister, Who is the Boss? A Brief Summary of the Different Parts that Make Up the Dutch State

The upcoming election features an unprecedented number of parties, 37 to be precise. It is easy to get lost in such a saturated political landscape, but fear not, this article gives an overview of the 16 largest parties in a bite-sized format.

The election will span over three days, March 15 to 17, during which voting stations will be open from 0730AM to 0900PM. Important to note is that during the first two days, only a limited amount of voting stations will be open. Whilst on March 17 all voting stations, 368 in Amsterdam, will be open.

For everyone who is in the bubble currently, the closest early voting location is the Koningskerk, whilst on election day, voting will be possible both in Café Restaurant Polder and the UvA Science Park campus. Other voting locations can be found on the website of municipality Amsterdam.

Only 66% of people between 18 and 24 years old voted in the 2017 election, making them the demographic with the lowest voter turnout. Politics can be confusing and even feel useless at times, but without voting the political landscape cannot change. So wherever your political alliance may lie, please remember to vote on 15, 16, or 17 March!

If you want to know more about a party click on the hyperlink of the abbreviation to be redirected to their party program. A full justification of the format and choices made is provided at the end of the article.

The Established Parties:

VVD

Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD)
People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy
Current number of seats: 33
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 40-32
Leader: Mark Rutte
Slogan: “samen aan de slag” / “work together”

The VVD, with Rutte in charge, has been the largest party in the Netherlands for the last ten years. Making Rutte the second-longest sitting Prime-Minister of the Netherlands, a year shy of the number one spot held by Ruud Lubbers.

The VVD is a liberal party that has a focus on freedom, both for individuals and the market. They are known as the entrepreneur’s party, advocating for fewer restrictions on the market and fewer taxes to stimulate the economic climate. The current student loan system is something the VVD supports and stands by. Within the medical-ethical issues they support the legalisation of euthenesia, but not of soft drugs. Furthermore, the VVD proposes more defense spending and longer sentences for criminals. They are also proponents of slowing down immigration to the EU favouring regional solutions, nuclear energy, and more freedom for the Netherlands within the EU.

They most often vote together with CDA (78%) and SGP (72%) and the least often together with SP (40%) and PvdD (38%)

PVV

Partij Voor de Vrijheid (PVV)
Party For Freedom
Current number of seats: 20
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 17-24
Leader: Geert Wilders
Slogan: “het gaat om u” / “it’s about you

The PVV is a young party, founded in 2006 two years after Wilders left the VVD when he disagreed with their positive stance on Turkey joining the EU. The PVV is the only party in Dutch politics that has no members, meaning they have no party leader elections and Wilders is the only one in charge. 

The primary focus of the PVV is Islam, which according to Wilders is not a religion but an ideology. The PVV advocates for barring people with multiple passports from voting, closing Islamic schools, and introducing a Ministry of Immigration, Remigration, and De-Islamification. Wilders also wants to put a stop to leftist hobbies such as the public broadcast, culture grants, and investments into solar and wind energy. Using these funds instead for more funding of the healthcare system, the abolishment of the “eigenrisico” (own risk in healthcare), and lower rents. The PVV is also in favour of a NEXIT.

They most often vote together with FvD (73%) and VVD (59%) and the least often together with D66 & PvdD (44%) and GL (41%).

CDA

Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA)
Christian-Democratic Appeal
Current number of seats: 19
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 15-19
Leader: Wopke Hoekstra
Slogan: “nu doorpakken” / “now [is the time to] get on with it”

The CDA is a Dutch political heavyweight, having been a part of or have led the coalition twelve times out of the fifteen times since 1980. It is a moderate conservative party founded on Christian ideals.

The CDA’s campaign is focused on families since they are the cornerstone of society. Campaign plans include more housing for young people and starters, a reimplementation of the basic scholarship model*, and investments into ‘shrinkage regions’ (think villages where most of the youth move to a city once old enough). CDA also wants more protections for gig-workers (I.E. Uber or delivery drivers), fewer taxes, more financial freedom, and the implementation of mandatory social conscription for six months. On medical-ethical issues the CDA has a conservative/Christian stance and they are pro-EU.

*The basic scholarship model is mentioned in a lot of party programs. From 1986 to 2015 the Dutch government gave scholarships to all Dutch students regardless of the student’s performance or field of study. This scholarship, called the ‘Basic Scholarship’, was free if students got their diploma within ten years, but had to be paid back if students dropped out.

They most often vote together with SGP (81%) and CU (79%) and the least often together with SP (51%) and PvdD (50%).

D66

Democraten 66 (D66)
Democrats 66

Current number of seats: 19
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 14-16
Leader: Sigrid Kaag
Slogan: “stem voor nieuw leiderschap” / “vote for new leadership”

D66 is a progressive social liberal party founded in 1966. In the 90s they were the driving force behind both the legalization of gay marriage and the euthanasia legislation. They stand for a democratic, sustainable and open society. 

Their campaign focuses on education, climate, and housing. They want to make second bachelors the same price as a first bachelor’s, as well as getting rid of the student loan system, which they helped implement in 2015. Their climate campaign centers around wind energy, advocating for building a large number of wind turbines in the north sea. To solve the housing shortage, D66 wants to build one million homes. Other notable plans are to implement direct voting for mayors and making permanent contracts more appealing to counteract the growing gig-economy. D66 is also in favour of remaining in the EU.

They most often vote together with CU (80%) and GL (74%) and the least often together with FvD (53%) and PVV (44%).

SP-logo

Socialistische Partij (SP)
Socialist Party
Current number of seats: 14
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 9-12
Leader: Lilian Marijnissen
Slogan: “stel een daad” / “do a deed”

Contrary to popular belief the SP is not a communist party. Their main stance is simply that the market should not be the holy grail in politics. Instead, solidarity stands at the core of their ideals.

The SP is in favour of a strong government. They want more taxes for high-income residents, lower prices for healthcare, renting, and day-care, as well as canceling the student loan system and reimplementing the basic scholarship model. The SP is critical of both foreign military interventions by the Netherlands and the EU, wanting an EU that stands for the people instead of for the multinationals. The euro is something the SP has stood against since its implementation, instead, they want to start a currency together with more comparable countries. They also advocate for returning the state pension age to 65.

They most often vote together with PvdD (88%) and GL (82%) and the least often together with PVV (48%) and VVD (40%).

GroenLinks

GroenLinks (GL)
GreenLeft

Current number of seats: 14
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 9-12
Leader: Jesse Klaver
Slogan: “tijd voor nieuw realisme” / “time for new realism”

GL is a relatively new party founded in 1990. Their focus, as the name suggests, is on sustainability and fighting climate change. Klaver is also the youngest party leader to be seated in the Second Chamber ever, gaining the position in 2015 at 29 years old.

Sustainability is GL’s main campaigning point, focussing on sustainable farming, decreasing the size of Dutch livestock, investments in wind and solar energy, as well as stopping the growth of the aviation industry. These plans combine into their aim of having cut the CO2 emissions by 60% in 2030. Inequality is another topic that is high on their agenda, they want to increase the taxation of high-income and wealthy citizens to counteract the growing wealth disparity. Other notable plans include changing the voting age to 16, forcing large companies to take on student interns, and implementing a maximum rent on 90% of rental houses. GL is also pro-EU.

They most often vote together with PvdD (86%) and SP (82%) and the least often together with VVD (44%) and PVV (41%).

PvdA

Partij voor de Arbeid (PvdA)
Labour Party
Current number of seats: 9
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 11-13
Leader: Lilianne Ploumen
Slogan: “voor een eerlijker en fatsoenlijker Nederland” / “for a fairer and more decent Netherlands”

The PvdA was created in 1946 in a merger of three social-democratic parties. They played a crucial part in rebuilding the Netherlands after WW2 and are largely responsible for forming the welfare state as we know it.

The PvdA focuses on worker’s rights, wealth inequality, discrimination, and poverty. They want to raise the minimum income, create crisis jobs, and put unemployed people to work in sectors with personnel shortages like education and healthcare. Other plans include making the PABO (teachers college) free if students work at least five years in education afterward, building 100.000 affordable houses per year, getting rid of the ‘eigenrisico’, lowering taxes on fruit and vegetables, and banning throwaway plastic. They are also in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 and are pro-EU.

They most often vote together with DENK & GL (76%) and D66 (71%) and the least often together with FvD (52%) and PVV (45%).

Partij voor de Dieren

Partij voor de Dieren (PvdD)
Party for the Animals

Current number of seats: 5
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 5-7
Leader: Ester Ouwehand
Slogan: “idealisme is het nieuwe realisme” / “idealism is the new realism”

The PvdD is a new party, created in 2006, that immediately received two seats in parliament. The party focuses on how nature and animals are treated by humans, doing this from a world-centric instead of a human-centric point of view. 

A big point in the PvdD campaign is animal welfare. Banning recreational hunting and fishing, decreasing livestock by 75%, severely restricting bioindustry, and ending the current form of zoos are all on the agenda. Climate is another central notion, the creation of a ministry of climate and biodiversity, a ban on throw-away plastic, and scaling down flights are some of the ways they aim to decrease pollution by the Netherlands. Other plans include starting a basic income test and making ecocide punishable by the international criminal court. The PvdD is critical of but still a proponent of the EU.

They most often vote together with SP (88%) and GL (86%) and the least often together with PVV (44%) and VVD (38%).

ChristenUnie

Christen Unie (CU)
Christian Union

Current number of seats: 5
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 6-7
Leader: Gert-Jan Segers
Slogan: “kiezen voor wat écht telt” / “choosing what really counts”

The CU was formed in 2000 in a merger of two reformational parties. Since 2000, they have been part of two coalitions, including the current one. The bible is central in the CU party philosophy to the extent that they start every meeting with a prayer. 

The CU focuses on a green economy and lowering wealth inequality. Plans include a reform of the tax system, raising the pay of police, teachers, and health care workers, as well as the creation of 50.000 ‘basic jobs’ for people who are currently receiving welfare payments. As a Christian party, the CU is conservative on medical-ethical grounds. They want to get rid of coffeeshops and return birth control to basic healthcare coverage to lower abortion rates. Other plans include raising the minimum income, reinstating the scholarship model, and introducing a harsh CO2 tax for industries.

They most often vote together with D66 (80%) and CDA (79%) and the least often together with FvD (55%) and PVV (47%).

50PLUS

50 PLUS (50+)
50 PLUS
Current number of seats: 4
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 2-3
Leader: Liane den Haan
Slogan: “de kracht van plus” / “the power of plus”

50+ was formed by Jan Nagel in 2009 to represent the elderly. A large target audience as about half of eligible voters, about 7 million people, are older than fifty. Central to 50+’s cause is the right that everyone in the Netherlands must be able to grow old well.

Protecting and helping the elderly is the crux of the 50+ plus campaign. Raising state pensions, lowering the state pension age back to 65, adding a thirteenth month to the state pension, removing market forces from health care, as well as raising the punishment of elderly abuse are all in their election manifesto. However, 50+ focuses on more than the elderly alone. Free daycare, freezing social rents, structurally increasing the minimum wage, tax system reforms, and reinstating the basic scholarship for students are also on the agenda. Lastly, 50+ is also pro-EU.

They most often vote together with SP & GL & DENK (76%) and PvdD (75%) and the least often together with FvD (59%) and PVV & VVD (53%).

SGP

Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP)
Reformed Political Party

Current number of seats: 3
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 2-4
Leader: Kees van der Staaij
Slogan: “in vertrouwen” / “in trust”

The SGP is the longest sitting party in the Second Chamber, having had a presence in it continuously since 1922. The SGP is a hard Christian party that gets most of its votes from people living in the bible belt. Their campaign website even goes offline on Sundays.

Following Christian values, the SGP is against legalizing euthanasia, abortion, drugs, and prostitution. As well as opposing gay marriage and their right to adopt children. Religion is central in their party, however, the SGP is highly critical of Islam. Campaign objectives include lowering taxes for families with one working parent, providing a one thousand euro grant for a  fourth child, introducing an alternative to the euro, and banning advertisements for adultery (apps like Second Love). As well as, reinstating the death penalty, radical reform of our position in the EU, and akin to their website, banning flights on Sundays.

They most often vote together with CDA (81%) and CU (77%) and the least often together with SP (54%) and PvdD (53%).

DENK

DENK (DENK)
THINK

Current number of seats: 3
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 1-3
Leader: Farid Azarkan
Slogan: “denk anders” / “think different”

DENK was created in 2015 after the founding members, Kuzu and Öztürk, parted ways with the PvdA over a disagreement about their immigrant integration policy. These same founding members describe DENK as a movement rather than a political party.

The DENK movement focuses on respect for all Dutch citizens and a better position of minorities in society. Their campaign plan thus largely revolves around diversity. DENK wants to create a ministry of inclusivity, invest a billion euros in combatting discrimination, and ban Black Pete in the public space. Other plans include creating a racism registry where registered people are banned from working for the government, raising the alcohol/tobacco buying age to 21, raising the minimum wage, and getting rid of the ‘eigenrisico’. DENK also wants an internship guarantee for students, investments into housing, and they want to remain in the EU.

They most often vote together with GL (81%) and SP (80%) and the least often together with VVD (49%) and PVV (47%).

Forum voor Democratie

Forum voor Democratie (FvD)
Forum for Democracy

Current number of seats: 2
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 3-5
Leader: Thierry Baudet
Slogan: “stem Nederland terug” / “vote the Netherlands back”

FvD was founded in 2015 by Baudet as a think tank. After having played a large role in the Ukraine referendum FvD became a political party in 2016, immediately gaining two seats in parliament. Notable is that FvD is the only party that did a physical campaign this election cycle.

FvD denies the existence of a climate crisis and wants to step out of all climate agreements, as well as, cut all funding to green energy initiatives. Baudet also does not believe that corona is a real threat, pushing for the lifting of all restrictions. Other plans include a stricter immigration policy, the reimplementation of border controls, and the abandonment of the euro. FvD also wants more direct democracy with the implementation of a binding referendum, followed by a NEXIT referendum. Baudet is very critical of mainstream media wanting remediation of the public broadcast system. FvD also plans on lowering the ‘eigenrisico’, reforming the tax system, and reimplementing the basic scholarship model.

They most often vote together with PVV (73%) and SGP (63%) and the least often together with PvdA (52%) and PvdD & GL (49%).

Up and Coming Parties:

JA21

JA21 (JA21)
YES21

Current number of seats: –
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 0-3
Leader: Joost Eerdmans
Slogan: “het juiste antwoord” / “the right answer”

JA21 was formed in December 2020, when members of FvD left the party after homophobic and anti-Semitic WhatsApp messages from within the youth FvD party became public. In light of this incident, JA21 aims to create a sober and decent alternative right voice within the political landscape. 

Their campaign plans focus on a smaller and less intrusive government. JA21 wants a lower income tax, tighter immigration policy, and more direct democracy through referendums on issues such as the future of the euro. They are extremely critical of the EU, but not to the extent of wanting a NEXIT. JA21 wants to focus on climate adaptation instead of prevention, citing the small percentage of worldwide emissions coming from the Netherlands, and to stop the building of solar and wind energy alternatives. Another notable plan is that JA21 wants to build a new large city of which the location is uncertain.

No voting information available.

BIJ1

BIJ1 (BIJ1)
BY1 (Sounds like the Dutch word for ‘together’)
Current number of seats: –
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 0-1
Leader: Sylvana Simons
Slogan: “allemaal anders maar toch gelijkwaardig” / “all different but still equal”

BIJ1, previously Article1, was founded in 2016 after Simons left DENK. Simons stated that the party was too polarizing, and did not give her enough space on issues like LGBTQ+ and women emancipation. BIJ1’s core ideal is radical equality.

BIJ1’s campaign plan focuses on equal rights and chances for all citizens. Tackling racism, banning police and tax authorities from registering ethnicity, and obtaining an official apology from the government for slavery with the immediate start of reparations are all high on the agenda. Other plans include the nationalization of the health system, the abolishment of college tuition, the reform of the army into a civil aid organization, the leaving of NATO, a steep tax increase on the aviation industry, and hefty investments into solar and wind energy. BIJ1 also wants to undo Rutte’s budget cuts in the art and culture sector, and create more funds for those sectors.

No voting information available.

Volt (Volt)
Volt

Current number of seats: –
Expected number of seats (12-03-’21): 0-2
Leader: Laurens Dassen
Slogan: “toekomst, made in Europe” / “future, made in Europe”

Volt is a Europe-wide political movement, the Dutch branch was founded in 2019. Their rationale is that the problems we face today do not stop at borders and thus should be solved on the European scale and Volt as a broad European party could facilitate that kind of effort. 

The central notion in the Volt campaign is a strong European Union. On the national scale, their plans include the return of the basic scholarship model, abolishment of college tuition, greener energy production based on wind, solar, and nuclear energy, a flight tax, and a car tax based on kilometers driven. A notable initiative by Volt is a ministry for digital business. This ministry would focus on protecting the privacy of citizens, protecting the Netherlands from hackers, and fighting fake news. Volt also plans on aggressively tackling tax evasion by multinationals.

No voting information available.

Other Up and Coming Parties:

There are a lot more parties out there; 21 to be precise. Sadly, it was not feasible to cover all of these as well. However, if none of the above parties resonate with you then definitely go research these smaller parties:

CODE ORANJE
NIDA
Piratenpartij
Libertaire Partij
JONG
Splinter
Boer Burger Beweging
NLBeter
Lijst Henk Krol
OPRECHT
JEZUS LEEFT
Trots op Nederland
U-Buntu Connected Front
Blanco lijst – Lijst 30
Partij van de Eenheid
DE FEESTPARTIJ Vrij en Sociaal Nederland
Wij zijn Nederland
Modern Nederland
De Groenen
Partij voor de Republiek

Justification:

Every party is covered in approximately 200 words, 50 for basic information, 50 as an introduction of the party, and 100 for content. We chose to include the 13 parties currently in the Second Chamber, plus JA21, BIJ1, and Volt as they are polled to maybe get one or more seats. Party contents are based on ‘NOS op 3’ coverage substantiated by personal research on party programs and party websites. The expected number of seats is based on frontbencher.nl, a website that compiles the results of the 4 largest polling agencies in the Netherlands. Nonetheless, the article provides an oversimplified view on the political landscape, and readers are encouraged to research parties further themselves.

Author: Luuk Kuiper

Physics student at Amsterdam University College

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