Be progressive, be proud of your ideals and don’t hide

Alexandros Michailidis / SOOC

GroenLinks, the Dutch electoral surprise, talked to New Europe about the new government and what 2017 brings for politics around the bloc.

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The photogenous 30-year old leader of GroenLinks, Jesse Klaver, is the real winner of the Dutch elections. The party’s history reminds much of what Greece’s Syriza was before rising in power in the opposition. Formed 27 years ago, the party is a merger of four left-wing parties: the Communist Party of the Netherlands, the Pacifist Socialist Party, the Political Party of Radicals and the Evangelical People’s Party.

After experiencing an electoral defeat in 2012, with the party losing 6 out of 10 seats in the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), it grabbed its second chance after “the Dutch Justin Trudeau”, Klaver, was chair of the youth organisation of the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the Netherlands (CNV) before entering the parliament with GroenLinks.

Klaver’s party has secured 14 seats in parliament, making him a strong candidate for the new government under VVD’s Mark Rutte. A VVD, D66 and CDA three party coalition does not inspire much confidence when it comes to intensifying measures. The fourth player will either be ChristenUnie (CU) or Klaver’s GroenLinks. The bitter experience of Rutte II administration showed that minority governments do not tend to be successful, but what about Klaver – is he ready to walk the line?

This is exactly what the New Europe has asked Klaver, after his enthusiastic speech in Amsterdam at a club full of campaigners, youth and press. As Europe has seen social democrats fail, following their participation in a coalition government with the right wing and liberal parties failing, they almost vanish from the electoral map. How can this be different for GroenLinks?

“This is an existential question maybe. We stand for our principles, we try to fight in the Parliament to achieve our goals. It is my ambition to make sure there will be a centre-left government,” adds Klaver, admitting that “this election result is very difficult, but this is what we are aiming for.”

So, what about Geert Wilders ranking second? “They won some seats, just a couple, it was not what they were waiting for, not what Europe was waking for,” adds Klaver.  “It is important for all parties to stick to their principles. If the populists say that the refugees are not welcome in Europe, say that they are welcome. Be progressive, be proud of your ideals and don’t hide. I think that too much has led wing parties to hide their ideas.”

15 March 2017 Dutch elections results:

VVD (Liberals) 33 seats,

PVV (Anti-immigration) 20 seats,

CDA (Christian Democrats) 19 seats,

D66 (Liberal progressives) 19 seats,

GroenLinks (Greens) 14 seats,

SP (Socialists) 14 seats,

PvdA (Labour) 9 seats,

PvdD (Pro animals) 5 seats,

CU (Christian Union) 5 seats,

50+ (50plus) 4 seats,

SGP 3 seats,

Denk 3 seats,

FvD 2 seats.

Trump’s actions made Wilders look as a bad choice

So, what about Wilders second position in the polls? Isabelle Diks, a 51-year old urban agriculture expert and GroenLinks candidate, shared her thoughts on the Dutch elections result.

“I think that when we see a stumbling president in the US, his surprising actions perhaps have made a person like Geert Wilders look not as successful as he might have hoped. I think that quite a few people in the Netherlands have seen what the effect might be when you choose a negative vote. People have chosen for hope, a green and sustainable future against hate-red and exclusion.”

Asking Diks why Wilders would look attractive to the citizens of such a prosperous country such as the Netherlands, she didn’t seem to have the answers. “It is a difficult question. We have never been this rich, this healthy, this wise. There is education everywhere, but still people are looking for more and for better.”

Social democrats fall, GroenLinks wins seats

Dutch Labour party PvdA saw its power shrink in a historic defeat, keeping just 9 out of 38 seats in the 2012 Tweede Kamer elections. Former PvdA parliamentarian Rob Oudkerk thinks the party should disband after the 15 March electoral results.

“I think the PvdA should stop and consider its existence: what on earth are we still here for? Maybe we should go to another social democratic movement”, Oudkerk said to Radio Noord.

PvdA’s voters ponder on the result as well. 66-year old Jeroen was amazed to see the results. “All the young people decided that PvdA is not representing them,” he told New Europe in Amsterdam. “We have to understand those young people better.”

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