GreenLeft

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Not to be confused with Green Left Weekly.
GreenLeft
GroenLinks
Party Chairperson Rik Grashoff
Leader in the Senate Tof Thissen
Leader in the House of Representatives Bram van Ojik
Leader in the European Parliament Bas Eickhout
Founded 1 March 1989
Merger of Rainbow: PSP, CPN, PPR and EVP[1]
Headquarters Partijbureau GroenLinks
Oudegracht 312 Utrecht
Think tank Wetenschappelijk Bureau GroenLinks
Youth wing DWARS
Ideology Green politics,[2]
Progressivism
Green liberalism[3]
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation Global Greens
European affiliation European Green Party
European Parliament group The Greens–European Free Alliance
Colours Green
Seats in the House of Representatives
4 / 150
Seats in the Senate
5 / 75
States-Provincial
34 / 566
Seats in the European Parliament
2 / 26
Website
http://groenlinks.nl/
Politics of Netherlands
Political parties
Elections

GroenLinks (Dutch pronunciation: [ɣrunlɪŋks],[stress needed] GL) is a green political party operating in the Netherlands. The name means GreenLeft, however the party does not translate its name in English texts.[4]

GroenLinks was formed on 1 March 1989 as a merger of four left-wing political parties: the Communist Party of the Netherlands, Pacifist Socialist Party, the Political Party of Radicals and the Evangelical People's Party. After disappointing results in the 1989 and 1994 general elections, the party fared particularly well between 1994 and 2002. The party's leader Paul Rosenmöller was seen as the unofficial leader of the opposition against the Kok cabinet-led Purple governments by the media, fellow politicians and academics, even though it was only the second largest party in the opposition.

GroenLinks describes itself as "green" "social", and "tolerant".[5] It places itself in the freedom-loving tradition of the Left.[6]

Currently the party is represented by four seats in the House of Representatives, five in the Senate and two in the European Parliament. The last party leader, and chair of the parliamentary party in the House of Representatives, was Jolande Sap. The party is in opposition against the governing Rutte cabinet. The party has over 100 local councillors and it participates in the government of sixteen of the twenty largest municipalities in the Netherlands.[citation needed] The party's voters are concentrated in larger cities, especially those with a university.

The party has over 21,901 members which are organised in over 250 municipal branches. The party congress is open to all members. It is a member of the Global Greens and the European Green Party. The Party increased its number of seats from 7 to 10 in the 2010 Dutch general election, to be reduced to 4 seats in the 2012 election.

History[edit]

Before 1989[edit]

GreenLeft was founded in 1989 as merger of four parties that were to the left of the Labour Party (PvdA), a social-democratic party which is traditionally the largest centre-left party in the Netherlands. The founding parties were the (destalinised) Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN), the Pacifist Socialist Party (PSP), which originated in the peace movement, the green-influenced Political Party of Radicals (PPR), originally a progressive Christian party, and the progressive Christian Evangelical People's Party.[7] These four parties were frequently classified as "small left"; to indicate their marginal existence. In the 1972 general election these parties won sixteen seats (out of 150), in the 1977 general election they won only six. From that moment on, members and voters began to argue for close cooperation.[8]

From the 1980s onwards the four parties started to cooperate in municipal and provincial elections. As fewer seats are available in these representations a higher percentage of votes is required to gain a seat. In 1984 European election the PPR, CPN and PSP formed the Green Progressive Accord that entered as one into the European elections. They gained one seat, which rotated between the PSP and PPR. Party-members of the four parties also encountered each other in grassroots extraparliamentary protest against nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. More than 80% of the members of the PSP, CPN and PPR attended at least one of the two mass protests against the placement nuclear weapons of 1981 and 1983[9]

The Evangelical People's Party was a relatively new party, founded in 1981, as a splinter group from the Christian Democratic Appeal, the largest party of the Dutch centre-right. During its period in parliament 1982-1986 it had trouble positioning itself between the small left parties (PSP, PPR and CPN), the PvdA and the CDA.[9]

Part of a series on
Green politics
Sunflower symbol

The increasingly close cooperation between PPR, PSP, CPN and EVP, and the ideological change that accompanied it was not without internal dissent within the parties. The ideological change that CPN made from official communism to 'reformism' led to a split in the CPN; and the subsequent founding of the League of Communists in the Netherlands in 1982. In 1983, a group of "deep" Greens split from the PPR, to found The Greens. The CPN and the PPR wanted to form an electoral alliance with the PSP for the 1986 elections. This led to a crisis within the PSP, in which chair of the parliamentary party (Fractievoorzitter) Fred van der Spek, who opposed cooperation, was replaced by Andrée van Es, who favoured cooperation. Van der Spek left the PSP to found his own Party for Socialism and Disarmament. The 1986 PSP congress, however, rejected the electoral alliance.

In the 1986 general election, all four parties lost seats. The CPN and the EVP disappeared from parliament. The PPR was left with two and the PSP with one seat. While the parties were preparing to enter in the 1990 elections separately, the pressure to cooperate however also increased. In 1989 the PPR, CPN and PSP entered the 1989 European Parliament election with a single list, called the Rainbow. Joost Lagendijk and Leo Platvoet, both PSP party board members, initiated an internal referendum in which the members of the PSP declared to support leftwing cooperation (70% in favour; 64% of all members voting). Their initiative for left-wing cooperation was supported by an open letter from influential members of trade unions (such as Paul Rosenmöller and Karin Adelmund), of environmental movements (e.g., Jacqueline Cramer) and from arts (such as Rudi van Dantzig). In the letter they called for the formation of a single progressive party to the left of the Labour Party. Lagendijk and Platvoet had been taking part in informal meetings between prominent PSP, PPR and CPN-members, who favoured cooperation. Other participants were PPR chairman Bram van Ojik and former CPN leader Ina Brouwer. These talks were called "F.C. Sittardia" or Cliché bv.[9]

In the spring of 1989 the PSP party board initiated formal talks between the CPN, the PSP and the PPR about a common list for the upcoming general elections. It soon became clear tha the CPN wanted to maintain an independent communist identity and not merge into a new left-wing formation. This was reason for the PPR leaving the talks. Negotiations about cooperation were reopened after the fall of the second Lubbers cabinet and the announcement that elections would be held in the autumn of that year. This time the EVP was included in the discussion. The PPR was represented for a short while by an informal delegation led by former chair Wim de Boer, because the party board did not want to be seen re-entering the negotiations it had left only a short while earlier. In the summer of 1989 the party congresses of all four parties accepted to enter the elections with a shared programme and list of candidates. Additionally the association GreenLeft (Dutch: Vereniging GroenLinks; VGL) was set up to allow sympathisers, not member of any of the four parties to join. Meanwhile the European elections of 1989 were held, in which same group of parties had entered as a single list under the name "Rainbow". In practice the merger of the parties had now happened and the party GreenLeft was officially founded on 24 November 1990.[8][9]

1989-1994[edit]

1989 election poster showing the old logo in which the pink lines and the blue spaces forming allude to a peace sign.

In the 1989 elections the PPR, PSP, CPN and EVP entered in the elections with one single list called Groen Links. In the Netherlands, which forms one single electoral district, parties enter in the elections with one list for the whole country. The top spot of the list (the lijsttrekker) is taken by the party's political leader, who often becomes Fractievoorzitter (parliamentary group leader). The GreenLeft list of candidates was organised in such a way that all the parties were represented and new figures could enter. The PPR which had been the largest party in 1986 got the top candidate (taken by Ria Beckers) and the number five, the PSP the numbers two and six, the CPN the number three and the EVP number eleven. The first independent candidate was Paul Rosenmöller, trade unionist from Rotterdam, the number four. In the elections the party doubled its seats in comparison to 1986 (from three to six) but the expectations had been much higher.[9] In the 1990 municipal elections the party fared much better however, strengthening the resolve to cooperate.[8]

In the period 1989-1991 the merger developed further. A board was organised for the party-in-foundation and a GreenLeft Council, which was supposed to control the board and the parliamentary party and stimulate the process of merger, all five groups (CPN, PPR, PSP, EVP and the Vereniging Groen Links all had seats as ratio of the number of party members. Originally, the three youth organisations, the CPN-linked General Dutch Youth League, the PSP-linked Pacifist Socialist Young Working Groups and the PPR-linked Political Party of Radical Youth refused to merge under pressure of the government, who controlled their subsidies they did merge to form DWARS.[10] In 1990 some opposition formed against the moderate, green course of GreenLeft. Several former PSP members united in the "Left Forum" in 1992 they would leave the party to join former PSP leader Van der Spek to found the PSP'92. Similarly former members of the CPN joined the League of Communists in the Netherlands to found the New Communist Party in the same year. In 1991 the congresses of the four founding parties (PSP, PPR, CPN and EVP) decided to officially abolish their parties.[9]

GreenLeft had considerable problems with formulating its own ideology. In 1990 the attempt to write the first manifesto of principles failed because of the difference between socialists and communists on the one side and the more liberal former PPR members on the other side.[10] The second manifesto of principles which was not allowed the name manifesto of principles was adopted after a lengthy debate and many amendments in 1991.[10]

Although the party was internally divided, the GreenLeft parliamentary party was the only party in the Dutch parliament which opposed the Gulf War.[10] A debate within the party about the role military intervention led to a more nuanced standpoint than the pacifism of some of its predecessors: GreenLeft would support peace-keeping missions as long as they were mandated by the United Nations.[10]

In the fall of 1990 MEP Verbeek announced that he would, as he had promised, leave the European Parliament after two and a half years to make room for a new candidate.[10] He would continue as an independent and remain in parliament until 1994. In the 1994 European elections, he would run unsuccessfully as top candidate of The Greens.[11]

In 1992 party leader Ria Beckers left the House of Representatives because she wanted more private time. Peter Lankhorst replaced her as chair ad interim, but he announced that he would not take part in the internal elections.[12]

1994-2002[edit]

1994 election posters showing the duo Rabbae/Brouwer. The text reads: "GreenLeft counts double"

Before the general election of 1994, GreenLeft organised an internal election on the party's political leadership. Two duos entered: Ina Brouwer (former CPN) combined with Mohammed Rabbae (independent), while Paul Rosenmöller (independent) formed a combination with Leoni Sipkes (former PSP); there were also five individual candidates, including Wim de Boer (former chair of the PPR and member of the Senate), Herman Meijer (former CPN, future chair of the party) and Ineke van Gent (former PSP and future MP)).[12]

Some candidates ran in duos because they wanted to combine family life with politics. Brouwer, Rosenmöller and Sipkes already were MPs for GreenLeft, whilst Rabbae was new - he had been chair of the Dutch Centre for Foreigners. In the first round the duos ended up ahead of the others, but neither had an absolute majority. A second round was need which Brouwer and Rabbae won with 51%.[12] Brouwer became the first candidate and Rabbae second, the second duo Rosenmöller and Sipkes occupied the following place followed by Marijke Vos, former chair of the party. The idea of a dual top candidacy did not communicate well to the voters. GreenLeft lost one seat, leaving only five. Yet in the same election the centre-left Labour Party also lost a lot of seats.[11]

After the elections, Brouwer left parliament. She was replaced as party leader by Paul Rosenmöller and her seat was taken by Tara Singh Varma.[11] The charismatic Rosenmöller became the "unofficial leader" of the opposition against the first Kok cabinet because the main opposition party Christian Democratic Appeal was unable to adapt well to its new role as opposition party.[8][13] Rosenmöller set out a new strategy: GreenLeft should offer alternatives instead of just rejecting the proposals made by the government.[14][15]

In the 1998 general election, GreenLeft more than doubled its seats to eleven. The charisma of the charismatic "unofficial leader" Rosenmöller played an important role in this.[15] Many new faces entered parliament, including Femke Halsema, a political talent who had left the Labour Party for GreenLeft in 1997.[16] The party began to speculate openly about joining government after the elections of 2002.[17][18]

The 1999 Kosovo War divided the party internally. The parliamentary party in the House of Representatives supported the NATO intervention, while the Senate parliamentary party was against the intervention. Several former PSP members within the House of Representatives parliamentary party began to openly speak out their doubts about the intervention. A compromise was found: GreenLeft would support the intervention as long as it limited itself to military targets. Prominent members of the founding parties including Marcus Bakker en Joop Vogt left the party over this issue.[19]

In 2001 the integrity of former MP Tara Singh Varma came into doubt: it was revealed that she had lied about her illness and that she had made promises to development organisations which she did not fulfill. In 2000 she had left parliament because as she claimed, she had only a few months to live before she would die of cancer. The TROS program "Opgelicht" (In English "Framed") revealed that she had lied and that she did not have cancer.[20] Later she apologised on public television and claimed she suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder.[21]

In the same year the parliamentary party supported the invasion of Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of September 11 of the year. This invasion led to great upheaval within the party. Several former PSP members within the House of Representatives parliamentary party began to openly speak out their doubts about the intervention. Under pressure of internal opposition, led by former PSP members and the party's youth organisation DWARS, the parliamentary party changed its position: the attacks should be cancelled.[20]

Several members of The Greens, including Roel van Duijn, joined GreenLeft, while maintaining their membership of the Greens.[20]

2002-now[edit]

The 2002 general election was characterised by changes in the political climate. The right-wing populist political commentator Pim Fortuyn entered politics. He had anti-establishment message, combined with a call for restrictions of immigration. Although his critique was oriented at the second Kok cabinet, Rosenmöller was one of the few politicians who could muster some resistance against his message. Days before the election Fortuyn was assassinated. Ab Harrewijn, GreenLeft MP and candidate also died.[22] Before and after the elections serious threats were made against Rosenmöller, his wife and his children. These events caused considerable stress for Rosenmöller.[23] GreenLeft lost one seat in the election, although it had gained more votes than in the 1998 elections. Before the 2003 general election Rosenmöller left parliament, citing the ongoing threats against his life and those of his family as the main reason. He was replaced as chair of the parliamentary party and top candidate by Femke Halsema. She was unable to keep ten seats and lost two.[22]

In 2003 GreenLeft almost unanimously turned against the Iraq War. It took part in the protests against the war, for instance by organising its party congress in Amsterdam at the day of the large demonstration, with an interval allowing its members to join the protest.[22]

At the end of 2003 Halsema temporarily left parliament to give birth to her twins. During her absence Marijke Vos took her place as chair of the parliamentary party.[24] When she returned to parliament, Halsema started a discussion about the principles of her party. She emphasized individual freedom, tolerance, self-realisation and emancipation. In one interview she called her party "the last liberal party of the Netherlands"[25] This led to considerable attention of media and other observers, which speculated about an ideological change.[24] In 2005 the party's scientific bureau published the book "Vrijheid als Ideaal" ("Freedom as Ideal") in which prominent opinion-makers explored the new political space and the position of the left within that space.[26] During the congress of February 2007 the party board was ordered to organize a party-wide discussion about the party's principles.[27]

During the European Elections congress of 2004, the candidacy committee proposed that the chair of the GreenLeft delegation, Joost Lagendijk, should become the party's top candidate in those elections. A group of members, led by Senator Leo Platvoet submitted a motion "We want to choose". They wanted a serious choice for such an important office. The party's board announced a new electoral procedure. During the congress Kathalijne Buitenweg, an MEP and candidate, announced wish to be considered for the position of top candidate. She narrowly won the elections from Lagendijk. This came as a great surprise to all. Especially for Buitenweg who had not written an acceptance speech and read out Lagendijk's.[24]

In May 2005 MP Farah Karimi wrote a book in which discussed in detail how she had taken part in the Iranian Revolution, because this information was already known by the party board this did not lead to any upheaval.[28] In November 2005 the party board asked Senator Sam Pormes to give up his seat. Continuing rumours about his involvement with guerrilla-training in Yemen in the 1970s and the 1977 train hijacking by Moluccan youth and allegations of welfare fraud were harmful for the party, or at least so the party board claimed.

When Pormes refused to step down, the party board threatened to expel him. Pormes fought this decision. The party council of March 2006 sided with Pormes. Party chair Herman Meijer felt forced to resign. He was succeeded by Henk Nijhof who was chose by the party council in May 2006. In November 2006 Pormes left the Senate, he was replaced by Goos Minderman.[29]

2006 election posters showing Halsema. The text reads: Grow along, GreenLeft. The turret is the official working office of the Dutch Prime Minister.

In the 2006 Dutch municipal election the party stayed relatively stable, losing only a few seats. After the elections GreenLeft took part in 75 local executives, including Amsterdam where MP Marijke Vos became an alderwoman.[29]

In preparation of the 2006 general election the party held a congress in October. It elected Halsema, again the only candidate, as the party's top candidate. MEP Kathalijne Buitenweg and comedian Vincent Bijlo were last candidates. In the 2006 elections the party lost one seat.[29]

In the subsequent cabinet formation an initial exploratory round among the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Labour Paty (PvdA) and Socialist Party (SP) failed, Halsema announced that GreenLeft would not be involved in further discussion at that point in time, as the party lost, was too small, and had less in common with CDA than the SP had.[29] Following this decision an internal debate about the political course and the leadership of Halsema re-erupted. The debate does not just concern the series of lost elections and the decision not to participate in the formation talks, but also the elitist image of the party, the new liberal course, initiated by Halsema, and the lack of party democracy. Since the last weeks of January 2007 several prominent party members have voiced their doubts including former leader Ina Brouwer, Senator Leo Platvoet and MEP Joost Lagendijk.[27] In reaction to this the party board has set up a commission led by former MP and chair of the PPR Bram van Ojik. They looked into the lost series of elections. In the summer of 2007 another committee was formed to organize a larger debate about the course of the party's principles, organization and strategy. Van Ojik also led this committee. The committee implemented a motion already adopted by the party's congress in 2006 to re-evaluate the party's principle in light of the party's course started by Halsema ion 2004.[29] Over the course of 2007 and 2008 the committee organised an internal debate about the party's principles, organisation and strategy. In November 2008 this led to the adoption of a new manifesto of principles.

In August 2008, GreenLeft parliamentarian Wijnand Duyvendak published a book in which he admitted to a burglary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in order to steal plans for nuclear power plants. This led to his resignation on August 14, after media reported that the burglary also led to threats against civil servants.[30][31] He was replaced by Jolande Sap.[32]

In 2008 MEPs Joost Lagendijk and Kathalijne Buitenweg announced that they would not seek a new term in the European Parliament. The party had to elect a new top candidate for the 2009 European elections. There were five candidates for this position: Amsterdam city councillor Judith Sargentini, former MEP Alexander de Roo, senator Tineke Strik, environmental researcher Bas Eickhout and Niels van den Berge assistant of MEP Buitenweg. In an internal referendum Sargentini was elected. The party congress put Eickhout on a second position on the list.

On 18 April 2010 the party congress composed the list of candidates for the 2010 general election. Two sitting MPs Ineke van Gent and Femke Halsema were granted dispensation to stand for a fourth term. Halsema was re-elected as party leader. Van Gent was put as fifth on the party list. All of the first five candidates were sitting MPs and four were women. There other high newcomers were former Greenpeace director Liesbeth van Tongeren and chairman of CNV youth Jesse Klaver. The party won 10 seats in the election and participated in the formation talks of a Green/Purple government.[citation needed]

Name[edit]

The name "GroenLinks" (until 1992 "Groen Links" with a space between Groen and Links) is a compromise between the PPR and the CPN and the PSP. The PPR wanted the word "Green" in the name of the party, the PSP and the CPN the word "Left". It also emphasises the core ideals of the party, environmental sustainability and social justice.[9]

In 1984 the common list of the PPR, PSP and CPN for the 1984 European elections was called Green Progressive Accord at that time the PPR did not want to accept the word "left" in the name of the political combination. The parties had entered in the 1989 European elections as the Rainbow (Regenboog), in reference to the Rainbow Group in the European Parliament in which had participated between 1984 and 1989[8]

Ideology and issues[edit]

Ideology[edit]

The party combines green with left-wing ideals.[13] The core ideals of GreenLeft are codified in the party's programme of principles (called "Partij voor de Toekomst" - Party for the Future).[33] The party places itself in the freedom-loving tradition of the left. Its principles include

  • The protection of the Earth, ecosystems and a respectful treatment of animals
  • A fair distribution of natural resources between all citizens of the world and all generations.
  • An just distribution of income and fair chance for everyone to work, care, education and recreation.
  • A pluralist society where everyone can participate in freedom. The party combines openness with a sense of community.
  • Strengthening the international rule of law, in order to ensure peace and respect for human rights.

The party's principles reflect the ideological convergence between the four founding parties which came from different ideological traditions: the Political Party of Radicals and the Evangelical People's Party, from a progressive Christian tradition; and the Pacifist Socialist Party and the Communist Party of the Netherlands from the socialist and communist traditions. Over the course of the 1970s and 1980s the parties had come to embrace environmentalism and feminism; they all favoured democratisation of society and had opposed the creation of new nuclear plants and the placement of new nuclear weapons in the Netherlands.[8]

Halsema, the former political leader of the party, has started a debate about the ideological course of GreenLeft. She emphasised the freedom loving tradition of the left and chose freedom as key value. Her course is called left-liberal by herself and observers,[34] although Halsema herself claims that she does not want to force an ideological change.

Following Isaiah Berlin, Halsema distinguishes between positive and negative freedom.[35] Negative freedom is according to Halsema the freedom citizens from government influence; she applies this concept especially to the multicultural society and the rechtsstaat, where the government should protect the rights of citizens and not limit them. Positive freedom is the emancipation of citizens from poverty and discrimination. Halsema wants to apply this concept to welfare state and the environment where government should take more action. According to Halsema, GreenLeft is undogmatic party, that has anarchist tendencies.[35]

Proposals[edit]

The election manifesto for the 2010 elections was adopted in April of that year. It was titled "Klaar voor de Toekomst" ("Prepared for the Future"). The manifesto emphasises international cooperation, welfare state reform, environmental policy and social tolerance.[36]

GreenLeft considers itself as a "social reform party" which is able to reform the government finances as well as increasing the position of "outsiders" on the labour market, such as migrant youth, single parents, workers with short term-contracts and people with disabilities. The means that it disagrees with the parties on the right which, in the eyes of GreenLeft, were only oriented towards cutting costs and did not offer the worst off a chance for work, emancipation and participation.[37] But, unlike the other opposition parties of the left, the party does not want to defend the current welfare state either which the party calls "powerless", because it merely offers the worst off a benefit, but not a perspective for work.[37] The party wants to reform the Dutch welfare state so it will benefit "outsiders" - those who have been excluded from the welfare state until now. To increase employment the GreenLeft proposes a participation contract. The unemployment benefit should be increased and limited to one year. In this period people would have to look for a job or education. If at the end of the year one should not succeed in finding a job, the government will offer one a job for the minimum wage. In order to create more employment they want to implement the green tax shift, which will lower taxes on lower paid labour. This would be compensated by higher taxes on pollution. In order to increase the perspectives for the underprivileged, it wants to invest in education, especially the vmbo. In order to ensure that migrants have a better chance for jobs it wants to deal firmly with discrimination, especially on the labour market. The party also wants to decrease income differences by making child benefits.[36] The party also favours reform of the government pensions: after 45 years of employment one should get the right to a pension. If one starts working young, one is able to stop working earlier, than if one starts working when one is older. Receiving unemployment or disability benefits is counted as work, as well as caring for children or family members. The system of mortgage interest deductions should be abolished over a forty year period.

International cooperation is an important theme for the party. This includes development cooperation with underdeveloped countries. GreenLeft wants to increase spending on development aid to 0.8% of the Gross National Product. It wants to open the European markets to goods from Third World countries, under conditions of fair trade. In order to ensure free and fair trade it wants to increase the democratise international economic organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The party also favours greater international control over financial markets. GreenLeft favours European integration, but critical about the current policies of the European Commission. It favoured the European Constitution, but after it was voted down in the 2005 referendum, GreenLeft advocated a new treaty which emphasised democracy and subsidiarity. The party is critical about the war against terrorism. It wants to strengthen the peacekeeping powers of the United Nations and reform the Dutch armed forces into a peace force. The functions of NATO should be taken over by the European Union and the United Nations.

GreenLeft wants to solve environmental problems, especially climate change, by stimulating durable alternatives. The party wants to use taxes and emissions trading to stimulate alternative energy as an alternative to both fossil fuel and nuclear plants. It wants to close all nuclear plants in the Netherlands and impose a tax on the use of coal in energy production, in order to discourage the building of new coal-based power plants. Moreover it wants to stimulate energy saving. It wants to invest in clean public transport, as an alternative to private transport. Investments in public transport can be financed by not expanding highways and imposing tolls on the use of roads (called "rekening rijden"). The party wants to stimulate organic farming through taxes as an alternative to industrial agriculture. Moreover, GreenLeft wants to codify animal rights in the Constitution.[36]

GreenLeft values individual freedom and the rule of law. The party wants to legalise soft drugs. It wants to protect civil rights on the internet by extending constitutional protection for free communication to email and other modern technologies. It also favours a reform of copyright to allow non-commercial reproduction and the use of open-source software in the public sector. In the long term it seeks to abolish the monarchy and create a republic. It also favours a reduction of the size of the government bureaucracy, for instance by decreasing the number of Dutch ministries and abolishing the Senate. Finally, GreenLeft favours liberal immigration and asylum policies. It wants to empower victims of human trafficking by giving them a residence permit and it wants to abolish the income requirements for marriage migration.[36]

Electoral results[edit]

Parliament (States-General, Staten-Generaal)[edit]

House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer)
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Government Notes
1989 362,304 4.1 (#6)
6 / 150
in opposition
1994 311,399 3.5 (#6)
5 / 150
Decrease 1 in opposition
1998 625,968 7.3 (#5)
11 / 150
Increase 6 in opposition
2002 660,692 7.0 (#5)
10 / 150
Decrease 1 in opposition
2003 495,802 5.1 (#6)
8 / 150
Decrease 2 in opposition
2006 453,054 4.6 (#6)
7 / 150
Decrease 1 in opposition
2010 628,096 6.7 (#7)
10 / 150
Increase 3 in opposition
2012 219,896 2.3 (#8)
4 / 150
Decrease 6 in opposition
Senate (Eerste Kamer)
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Notes
1991
4 / 75
1995
4 / 75
Steady 0
1999
8 / 75
Increase 4
2003 10,866 6.7
5 / 75
Decrease 3
2007 9,074 5.6
4 / 75
Decrease 1
2011 10,757 6.5
5 / 75
Increase 1

Provincial elections (Provinciale Staten)[edit]

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Notes
1991
36 / 758
1995
34 / 758
Decrease 2
1999
2003
50 / 764
37 / 564
2007
33 / 564
Decrease 4
2011 6.3 (#7)
34 / 566
Increase 1

European Parliament[edit]

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Notes
1994 154,362 3.7 (#6)
1 / 31
1999 419,869 11.9 (#4)
4 / 31
Increase 3
2004 352,201 7.4 (#4)
2 / 27
Decrease 2
2009 404,020 8.9 (#6)
3 / 25
3 / 26
Increase 1
Steady 0
2014 329,906 6.9 (#7)
2 / 26
Decrease 1

Representation and support[edit]

Overview[edit]

This table shows the results of GreenLeft elections to the House of Representatives (HoR), Senate (S), European Parliament (EP), States-Provincial (SP) and local-authority elections, as well as the number of politicians in provincial (GS) and local executives (aldermen). It also shows the party's political leadership: the "fractievoorzitter", the chair of the parliamentary party and the "lijsttrekker", the party's top candidate in the general election. These posts are normally taken by the party leader. The member count and the partijvoorzitter, the chair of the party's organisation are also shown. The party chair has an organisational function and is not part of the political leadership of the party.

Year HoR S EP SP GS GR Aldermen Parl. Party Chair Top candidate Party Chair Members
1989 6 3 2 32 0 254[38] unknown Ria Beckers Ria Beckers Leo Platvoet unknown
1990 6 3 2 32 0 385 16 Ria Beckers no elections Marijke Vos 15,900
1991 6 4 2 36 0 385 16 Ria Beckers no elections Marijke Vos 14,971
1992 6 4 2 36 0 385 16 Ria Beckers no elections Marijke Vos 13,548
1993 6 4 2 36 0 385 16 Peter Lankhorst no elections Marijke Vos 12,500
1994 5 4 1 36 0 380[39] 45[40] Paul Rosenmöller Ina Brouwer
(Mohammed Rabbae was her co-top candidate)
Marjan Lucas 12,500
1995 5 4 1 37[41] 0 380 45 Paul Rosenmöller no elections Ab Harrewijn 12,000
1996 5 4 1 37 0 380 45 Paul Rosenmöller no elections Ab Harrewijn 11.700
1997 5 4 1 37 0 380 45 Paul Rosenmöller no elections Ab Harrewijn 11,873
1998 11 4 1 37 0 430[39] 62[42] Paul Rosenmöller Paul Rosenmöller Ina Brouwer 13,821
1999 11 8 4 77[43] 1 430 62 Paul Rosenmöller no elections Mirjam de Rijk 13,855
2000 11 8 4 77 1 430 62 Paul Rosenmöller no elections Mirjam de Rijk 14,314
2001 11 8 4 77 1 430 62 Paul Rosenmöller no elections Mirjam de Rijk 15,037
2002 10 8 4 77 1 410[39] 59[44] Paul Rosenmöller Paul Rosenmöller Miriam de Rijk 18,469
2003 8 5 2 51 1 410 59 Femke Halsema Femke Halsema Herman Meijer 20,503
2004 8 5 2 51 1 410 59 Femke Halsema no elections Herman Meijer 20,709
2005 8 5 2 51 1 410 59 Femke Halsema no elections Herman Meijer 21,383
2006 8 5 2 51 1 417[39] 93[44] Femke Halsema Femke Halsema Henk Nijhof 23,490
2007 7 4 2 31[45] 2 417 93 Femke Halsema no elections Henk Nijhof 21,410
2008 7 4 2 31 2 417 93 Femke Halsema no elections Henk Nijhof 20,324
2009 7 4 3 31 2 417 93 Femke Halsema no elections Henk Nijhof 20,961
2010 10 4 3 31 2 436 75 Femke Halsema Femke Halsema Henk Nijhof 27,472
2011 10 5 3 33 2 436 75 Jolande Sap no elections Henk Nijhof ?
2012 4 5 3 33 2 436 75 Jolande Sap ->
Bram van Ojik
Jolande Sap Heleen Weening ->
Eduard van Zuijlen
?
Sources [46] [47] [48] [49] [49] [49] [46] [50] [51]

Members of the House of Representatives[edit]

Following the 2012 elections, the party now has four seats in the House of Representatives:

  1. Bram van Ojik, current Parliamentary leader
  2. Jesse Klaver, spokesperson on social affairs and education. In parliament since 2010. He was chair of the youth organisation of the CNV before entering parliament.[52]
  3. Liesbeth van Tongeren, spokesperson on the environment. In parliament since 2010. She was director of the Dutch branch of GreenPeace before entering parliament.[52]
  4. Linda Voortman (replaces Jolande Sap)
Tof Thissen, chair in the Senate

Members of the Senate[edit]

Following the 2011 elections the party has five representatives in the Senate:

  1. Tof Thissen, chair of the parliamentary party. He has been a Senate member since 2004. He is spokesperson on education, local government and the economy. In addition to his membership of the Senate, he works for the Federation of Dutch municipalities. He was an alderman in Roermond for GreenLeft. Before 1991 he was member of the PSP.[53]
  2. Margreet de Boer, lawyer and former member of a stadsdeel council in Amsterdam. Senate member since 2011.
  3. Ruard Ganzevoort, theologist and professor at the Free University in Amsterdam. Senate member since 2011.
  4. Tineke Strik is spokesperson on home affairs, foreign affairs and social affairs. She has been a Senate member since 2007. In addition to her membership of the Senate, she is a legal researcher. She was an alderwoman in Wageningen for GreenLeft.[54]
  5. Marijke Vos, former MP and alderwoman in Amsterdam. Senate member since 2011.
EP-delegation leader Judith Sargentini

Members of the European Parliament[edit]

After the 2014 European Parliament elections, the party has two representatives in the European Parliament:[55]

  1. Judith Sargentini - chair of the GreenLeft delegation, member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European parliament and substitute for the Committee on Development.[56]
  2. Bas Eickhout - member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and substitute for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.[56]

Municipal and provincial government[edit]

On the municipal level, the party provides 8 mayors (out of 414, as of December 2008),[1][57] in smaller municipalities such as Bloemendaal, Diemen and Wormerland, these are also appointed by the Minister of the Interior. GreenLeft did not perform particularly well in the 2006 municipal elections, losing 14 of its 415 seats, making it the fourth largest party in the Netherlands on the municipal level.[58] In the formation of municipal executives it was more successful and the number of municipal executives GreenLeft was part of grew from around 70 to around 100.[59]

It is part of the municipal executive of several larger cities notably Nijmegen, Utrecht, the Hague, Leiden, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, where former MP Marijke Vos was alderwoman. GreenLeft has 70 members of borough-level legislatures, 53 in Amsterdam and 17 in Rotterdam.

On the provincial level, GreenLeft provides one Queen's Commissioner (out of 12) in North Holland. Queen's Commissioners are appointed by the Minister of the Interior. GreenLeft is part of the North Holland provincial executive. It holds 51 seats in provincial legislatures. In the following figure one can see the election results of the provincial election of 2007 per province.[60] It shows the areas where GreenLeft is strong, namely the urban areas like North Holland and Utrecht. The party is weaker in rural provinces like Friesland and Zeeland, but also strong in rural Groningen, where the Communist Party of the Netherlands, one of the founding parties of GreenLeft was very strong.[citation needed]

Province Votes (%) Seats Provincial Executives
Groningen 7,6% 3 opposition
Friesland 3.9% 2 opposition
Drenthe 4.7% 2 opposition
Overijssel 4.3% 2 opposition
Flevoland 5.5% 2 opposition
Gelderland 5.9% 3 opposition
Utrecht 9.0% 4 opposition
Noord-Holland 9.7% 5 Bart Heller (prov. exec.)[61]
Zuid-Holland 5.9% 3 opposition
Zeeland 4.9% 2 Marten Wiersma (prov. exec.)[62]
North-Brabant 4.1% 2 opposition
Limburg 4.2% 2 opposition
Percentage of GreenLeft voters in the 2006 elections per municipality

Electorate[edit]

As can be seen on the map on the right, GreenLeft tends to do particularly well in larger cities, especially ones that host a university, such as Amsterdam (where it scored 12,5%), Utrecht (12,2%) and Wageningen (11,8%), Nijmegen (10,4%) and Leiden (10,0%).[63] More women vote for GreenLeft than men by a margin of 20%.[64] The party also disproportionately appeals to homosexual voters.[65] The party also polls well among migrant voters, especially those from Turkey and Morocco, where its support is twice as high as in the general population.[66][67]

GreenLeft voters have an eccentric position in their preferences for particular policies. Between 1989 and 2003 they were the most leftwing voters in the Netherlands, often a little more to the left than voters of the SP.[68] These voters are in favor of the redistribution of wealth, free choice for euthanasia, opening the borders for asylum seekers, the multicultural society and are firmly against building new nuclear plants.[68]

Style and campaign[edit]

The logo of GreenLeft is the name of the party with the word "Green" written in red and the word "Left" written in green since 1994. Additional colours used in the logo are white, yellow and blue. An earlier logo, used between 1989 and 1994, and which can be seen on the poster above showed a variation of a peace sign projected on a green triangle on which "PPR PSP CPN EVP" was written and next to it GreenLeft in green and pink.

Many well-known Dutch people have supported GreenLeft election campaigns. In 1989 choreographer Rudi van Dantzig and writer Astrid Roemer were last candidates.[69] In 2006 comedian Vincent Bijlo shared this position with MEP Kathalijne Buitenweg.[70] Comedienne Sara Kroos,[71] rapper Raymzter,[72] astronaut Wubbo Ockels[73] en soccer player Khalid Boulahrouz,[74][75] business man Harry de Winter,[74][75] journalist Anil Ramdas,[74] actrice Kim van Kooten,[74] commediene Sanne Wallis de Vries,[74] comedian Herman Finkers,[74] artist Herman van Veen,[74] soccer player-columnist Jan Mulder[74][75] and writer Geert Mak[75] have also committed their name to (part of) the 2006 or 2007 GreenLeft election campaign. In 2004 singer Ellen ten Damme, poet Rutger Kopland and presenter Martijn Krabbé supported the European election campaign.[76]

From 2007 onwards GroenLinks has adopted the idea of a "permanent campaign", which implies that campaign activities are held even when there is no immediate connection to an election.[77] Permanent campaign activities are intended to create and maintain a base level of sympathy and knowledge about the party platform. The introduction of guerrilla gardening in the Netherlands in 2008 was heavily supported by GreenLeft,[78] as part of the permanent campaign.

Party Bureau of GreenLeft in Utrecht

Organisation[edit]

Organisational structure[edit]

The highest organ of GreenLeft is the party congress, which is open to all members. The congress elects the party-board, it decides on the order of the candidates for national and European elections and it has a final say over the party platform. The congress convenes at least once every year in spring or when needed. The party board consists of fifteen members who are elected for a two year term. The chairperson of this board is the only paid position on the board, the others are unpaid. The chairperson together with four other boardmembers (the vice-chair, the treasurer, the secretary, the European secretary and the international secretary) handles the daily affairs and meet every two weeks while the other ten board members meet only once a month.[79]

For the months that the congress does not convene, a party council takes over its role. It consists out of 80 representatives of all the 250 municipal branches. The party board and the nationally elected representatives of the party are responsible to the party council. It has the right to fill vacancies in the board, make changes to the party constitution and takes care of the party's finances.[79]

GreenLeft MPs face relatively strong regulation: MPs are not allowed to run for more than three terms and a relatively high percentage of the income of MPs is taken by the party.[79]

GreenLeft has 250 branches in nearly all Dutch municipalities and each province. There are multiple municipalities in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, where every borough has its own branch and they have federal branches at the municipal level. Branches enjoy considerable independence, and take care of their own campaigns, lists of candidates and programs for elections. Provincial congresses meet at least every year and municipal congresses more often.[79] The total number of members of GreenLeft has been steadily increasing over the last ten years and had 23,490 members in of January 2007.[80]

There are several independent organisations which are linked to GreenLeft:

GreenLeft is also active on the European and the global stage. It is a founding member of the European Green Party and the Global Greens. Its MEPs sit in the The Greens–European Free Alliance group. GreenLeft cooperates with seven other Dutch parties in the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, an institute which supports democratic development in developing countries.[85]

Relationships to other parties[edit]

GreenLeft was founded as a mid-sized party to the left of the Labour Party (PvdA). In the 1994 elections however the Socialist Party (SP) also entered parliament. GreenLeft now takes a central position in the Dutch left between the socialist SP, which is more to the left, and the social-democratic PvdA, which is more to the centre.[86] This position is exemplified by the call of Femke Halsema to form a left-wing coalition after the 2006 elections, knowing that such a coalition is only possible with GreenLeft. The electoral alliance between SP and GL in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 elections,[87] and between GreenLeft and PvdA in the 2004 European elections are examples of this position.[88] In the 2007 First Chamber election it had an electoral alliance with the Party for the Animals.[89] More and more, however, GreenLeft is seen as the most culturally progressive of the three parties.[90][91]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
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External links[edit]