Much will be at stake when the Dutch head to the polls on March 15. Depending on the parliament this election produces, the Netherlands could eventually hold referendums on aspects of European integration like its use of the common currency or whether to reinstate border controls. In effect, this election could set in motion a Dutch departure from the European Union (EU).
As mentioned in a previous post, the Netherlands is a hotbed of euroscepticism. With the election fast approaching, this blog post aims to list all eurosceptic political parties the country has on offer. Beyond helping inform Dutch voters, this is also an opportunity to underscore the diversity of euroscepticism.
The following parties don’t see eye to eye on every issue. However, they all include eurosceptic policies in their election platforms.
Party for Freedom (PVV)
Founded in 2006, the PVV is the easily the largest eurosceptic movement in the Netherlands. Its controversial leader, Geert Wilders, is known internationally for his very strong stances on Islam and the EU. The PVV’s policy proposals are centred on the “de-islamization” of the Netherlands, including measures like banning the Quran and shutting down mosques. They also include the introduction of binding referendums, giving citizens more say in decision-making. Pollsters have been wrong about many elections in recent years, but for what it’s worth the vast majority of opinion polls for March’s election place the PVV first in projected seat counts.
Socialist Party (SP)
The oldest party on this list, the SP has stood to the left of the more centrist Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) for over 45 years. Like many on the far left of the political spectrum, SP voters often resist the direction of European integration, rather than the phenomenon itself. Seeing the EU as favouring multinational corporations rather than labour and the environment, the SP is against the common currency, wants limits to the European Commission’s power, and an end to EU subsidization of industrial agriculture. It also opposes international trade deals like the one recently signed between the EU and Canada, seeing them as vehicles for major corporate interests.
Party for the Animals (PvdD)
Perhaps the most unusual source of euroscepticism in the Netherlands comes from animal rights activists. They were instrumental in opposing the 2005 European Constitution, and their platform demands an end to agricultural and fisheries subsidies, as well as stricter regulation of genetically modified organisms and pesticide use. In a similar vein to the SP, the PvdD sees the EU’s agricultural policies as benefitting industrialized food producers more than small scale, environmentally-friendly farming operations.
For the Netherlands (VNL)
In 2014, two members of the Dutch House of Representatives left the PVV to form their own political movement, For the Netherlands. They were motivated more by a need to reduce the size of government than the PPV’s focus on Islam, and believe in maintaining free trade between EU member states. Their platform includes holding a referendum on EU membership, and returning more power to national parliaments, facilitating more flexible cooperation.
The provocative Dutch blog GeenStijl launched its first political initiative under the label GeenPeil (a play on words roughly meaning no polls) in 2014. This organisation was instrumental in campaigning for an advisory referendum on the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement, the controversial political and economic treaty that sparked the turmoil that continues to plague Ukraine. GP has since become an official political party, running on a platform calling for more direct, participatory democracy.
Forum for Democracy (FvD)
Originally founded as a think tank in 2015, the FvD also campaigned to hold a referendum on the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement. It recently became a political party, seeing March’s election as a better platform to push its ideas. Like other new eurosceptic parties, the FvD advocates for more direct democracy, and hopes future votes will be held on “Europe’s open borders, the euro, and [EU-US trade treaty] TTIP”.