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On 23rd April the current Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, formally handed in his government’s resignation to Queen Beatrix. As a result, a general election in which the 150 seats of the Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal (the Dutch parliament’s House of Representatives) are up for grabs, is scheduled to take place on 12th September.
Dutch general elections are normally held every four years and are based on a system of proportional representation. As no single party usually secures a majority, the elections commonly end in a coalition formed by two or more parties. And, in addition to the heavy-weights that tend to dominate Dutch politics such as the PvdA, the CDA and the VVD, a number of smaller parties are often represented in Dutch parliament.
The Main Contenders
A brief introduction to the main Dutch political parties, whose names will no doubt become extremely familiar to expats living in the Netherlands over the coming days, is outlined in alphabetical order below.
CDA – The Christian Democratic Appeal Party
A centre right, Christian democratic party with a policy centred around four key ideals: shared responsibility, stewardship, justice and solidarity. Although the bible is an important source of inspiration, the CDA also has Jewish, Muslim and Hindu members and actively campaigns for the integration of minorities into Dutch society.
ChristenUnie – Christian Union
Comprising predominantly orthodox Protestant Christians, this party holds conservative views on a number of social issues such as abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage. Its approach to immigration, the welfare state and the environment, however, is considered more centre-left.
D66 – Democrats 66
A progressive, social-liberal party with libertarian attitudes on a wide range of issues including euthanasia, gay marriage and prostitution. It also actively champions European integration, open immigration, secularism, the environment, civil liberties and privacy.
Groen Links – Green Left
A left wing party with socialist tendencies that advocates green, environmentalist policies, a multi-cultural society, high taxation, social engineering and stresses the importance of tackling global warming.
PvdA – the Labour Party
A social democratic, centre left party whose mandate is viewed as both socialist and conservative. Employment, social security and the welfare state are at the heart of the PvdA mandate and investment in education, public safety and health care is central to their policy.
PvdD – the Party for the Animals
This left-wing party is almost entirely focused on the promotion of animal rights and supporting animal welfare issues, although the environment has also become integral to its overall ideology.
PVV – the Party for Freedom
A right wing party lead by the highly outspoken Geert Wilders. Their populist socialist policy fuses economic liberalism with a much publicised opposition to immigration and integration within Europe.
SGP – the Political Reformed Party
Known for ultra orthodox Protestant views, this conservative party is based on a set of religious principles and is openly opposed to feminism.
SP – the Socialist Party
A left wing, social democratic party that became less radical and more conservative after its split from the Communist Party. The Socialist party advocates human dignity, equality and solidarity with social welfare, employment and anti-privatisation being at the heart of its campaign.
VVD – the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy
A liberal conservative party that supports private enterprise and leans heavily towards economic freedom. The VVD philosophy is expressed in a ‘Liberal Manifesto’ which incorporates the principles of democracy, security, freedom (the party supports Euthanasia for example) and citizenship.