The Netherlands has an ever-expanding range of political parties in parliament thanks to the way dissidents happily split off after an inter-party row and form their own group. There are also various flavours of Christianity to chose from. Here’s a list of the 10 we think are here to stay – in alphabetical order.
The Christen Democratisch Appel (Christian Democratic Appeal) was officially formed in 1980 through the merger of three other ‘confessional’ parties. The CDA (or one of its predecessors) was part of every government between 1918 and 1994. The Bible is seen as a source of inspiration rather than a dictate. Politically, the CDA is viewed as middle of the road.
ChristenUnie is the mildest of the three Dutch Christian parties and often described as left-wing because of its socio-economic policies. However, Biblical principles dictate party policy. The ChristenUnie is opposed to abortion and euthanasia and ties itself into knots over homosexuality, which it prefers to ignore.
The political party Democraten 66 was formed in 1966 with the aim of reforming the Dutch democratic system. Describing itself as a progressive, social liberal party, D66’s political fortunes have had their ups and downs. Current leader Alexander Pechtold has since revitalised the party’s fortunes, winning plaudits for his opposition to the rhetoric of anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders.
GroenLinks (Green Left) was officially formed in 1990 out of a grouping of four small, left-wing and green parties – the CPN, EVP, PPR and the PSP. The party’s core ideals revolve around environmental sustainability and social justice but it has a bit of leftie intellectual image and has never been part of the government.
The Partij van de Arbeid (Labour Party) was formed in 1946 and immediately became a part of the post World War II coalition government. The party is now led by nuclear scientist Diederik Samsom who took it into the coalition government with the right-wing VVD in 2012 – after which its support collapsed.
The Partij voor de Dieren (party for the animals) was founded in 2002 and claims to be the first mainstream political party in the world to animal rights first. Its leader Marianne Thieme is a Seventh Day Adventist and once caused upset by telling the Telegraaf newspaper Adam and Eve were vegetarians.
The Partij voor de Vrijheid (Freedom Party) was formed in 2007 by Geert Wilders, once an MP for the free market Liberals (VVD). Wilders – famed for his odd, peroxide blond hair – has for years been a staunch campaigner against the ‘Islamisation’ of the Netherlands and lives under armed guard because of his outspoken views. The party has only one member, Mr Wilders himself.
The Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij is the most orthodox of Holland’s fringe Christian parties and usually wins 2-3seats in the 150-member parliament. The party believes that the country should be governed ‘entirely on the basis of the ordinances of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures’ and does not think women should play an active role in politics. Seriously.
The Socialistische Partij, with its tomato logo, broke into national politics in 1994. Since then it has hovered around on the sidelines but support has surged under current leader Emile Roemer. The party is anti-Europe, anti-globalisation, and pro the working man – a bit like the PVV without the racism.
The Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (people’s party for freedom and democracy) is a tricky party to place outside the Dutch political sphere. Supporters of the free market as far as the economy is concerned, the party is traditionally liberal on social issues. But some party stalwarts are worried about the VVD’s recent shift to the right, including a tough stand on immigration.