Denk (political party)

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LeaderFarid Azarkan
ChairmanMetin Çelik
Leader in the House
of Representatives
Farid Azarkan
FoundersTunahan Kuzu
Selçuk Öztürk
Founded9 February 2015
Split fromLabour Party
HeadquartersSchiekade 10,
Youth wingJongerenbeweging Oppositie[1]
Think tankWetenschappelijk Instituut Statera[2]
Membership (2019)Increase 3,678[3]
Political positionCentre-left to left-wing[25][4]
Colours  Turquoise
0 / 75
House of Representatives
3 / 150
Provincial councils
4 / 570
European Parliament
0 / 26

Denk (Dutch pronunciation: [dɛŋk]; Dutch for "think" and Turkish for "equal" or "balanced"[8]) is a political party in the Netherlands.[26] It is legally registered as "Politieke Beweging Denk" (Political Movement Denk).[27]

It was founded by Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk, two Turkish-Dutch members of the House of Representatives, after leaving the Labour Party on 13 November 2014.

In the 2017 parliamentary election, Denk secured three seats, ensuring that Kuzu and Öztürk would remain in parliament together with new arrival Farid Azarkan, who is the current party leader. The party is considered to represent the rights of the Turkish population in the Netherlands, to the point it is often called the long arm of Erdoğan in the Dutch media for its perceived support of the party line of the Turkish government and the ruling AK Party.[8][28][14][29]


Denk was founded by Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk after leaving the Labour Party on 13 November 2014. Their resignations were prompted by proposals by Deputy Prime Minister and party leader Lodewijk Asscher that a number of Turkish Islamist organisations be monitored for interfering with the integration of Dutch citizens of Muslim origin.[30] This came after an internal party debate sparked by a report incorrectly stating that 90% of young Dutch-Turkish supported ISIS.[31][32] On 9 February 2015, they gave their parliamentary group the name Denk and published a political manifesto for the establishment of a movement for migrants and a "tolerant and solidary society" which, among other things, calls for a "racism registry".


The movement drew up a political manifesto in February 2015, from which the political party Denk emerged in November 2016.[33][34][non-primary source needed]

The Denk programme argues for the following five points:

  • a tolerant society in which we accept each other.
  • a caring society in which we look out for each other.
  • a learning society in which we utilize everyone's talents.
  • a sustainable society where we have to think about our environment.
  • a just society, promoting international justice.

The movement wants to establish a monument in memory of labour, and they want knowledge of migration history as a key target in education. They propose that the term "integration" should be replaced by the word "acceptance". The movement would abolish the term "immigrant". It notes that people with a non-western background are less likely to find a job or internship and often have negative experiences with law enforcement. The manifesto states that racism in the Netherlands is structural and institutional in nature and therefore wants a so-called "racism registry" to be set up, in which manifestations of racism are registered.

The movement proposes that in education, diversity in the classroom is commensurate with the diversity of the class (including the teacher). The movement has a policy that in every school in the Netherlands, both in primary and secondary education, study of Chinese, Arabic, and Turkish must be introduced as optional subjects. According to the movement, education in these languages will be useful for the country's economy and international relations. According to the manifesto, imams should not only be appointed to mosques, but also in health care, prisons and the armed forces.

Denk's view is that the United Nations and its Security Council need fundamental reform and that the European Union should pursue an independent foreign policy. The movement wants to tackle Islamic extremism by tackling its root causes, which, according to the party, consist of hopelessness, social exclusion, and injustice. On the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the party advocates that Europe strengthen the international position of Palestine and that the Netherlands recognises the State of Palestine.


The party mainly attracts support from ethnic minorities in the Netherlands, especially from the Turkish and Moroccan population. Correspondingly the support for DENK is the strongest in cities and towns with a significant migrant population, especially in the larger cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam. In these cities the support for the party concentrates in the majority-minority districts, such as Nieuw-West in Amsterdam or Kanaleneiland in Utrecht, gaining between 30-40% of the votes in those districts.[35]


Support for the AKP[edit]

The two leaders and founders of the party have been criticised for being "closely linked to the AKP" of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and "do not criticize Erdogan and Turkish government policies". The party was the sole party in the Netherlands that did not call for the release of a Turkish-Dutch blogger who was arrested for a tweet about Erdoğan.[14] The party has also been heavily criticised for refusing to distance itself from the purges in Turkey since 2016.[8]

The Diyanet, a Turkish governmental unit, has allowed Denk to promote itself in Diyanet-controlled Dutch mosques. There are 146 such mosques as of 2018.[29]

The party's program for the 2017 general election, in the context of the Armenian Genocide, mourns both the Turkish and the Armenian sides, while calling for an "independent international investigation". Denk claims that there is no consensus regarding the scale and cause of the tragedy, and calls for "reason and unification". Within that framework, the party does not use the term genocide.[34][non-primary source needed] Denk was the sole party which voted against a bill recognising the Armenian Genocide.[15]

Disingenuous campaigning[edit]

NRC Handelsblad reported in February 2017 that Denk was using fake social media profiles in order to influence public opinion.[36] In response, Denk released a video on their Facebook page in which Kuzu and Azarkan downplayed the allegations, questioned the motives of NRC Handelsblad, and suggested that other parties make greater use of fake social media accounts.[37] A few days later, authorised party leader Kuzu acknowledged that there had been some internet trolls from the youth department of DENK who would be called to account for their behaviour.[38][39] Some days after, Kuzu also called Azarkan to account for his role in the use of fake social media accounts.[40][41]

In 2018, it was revealed that party members tried using online banners with the text "After 15 March, we will cleanse the Netherlands" and the branding of the Party for Freedom, in order to smear the party and accuse it of supporting ethnic cleansing. The campaign was made by order of campaign leader Farid Azarkan.[42][43]

In March 2020, the party was condemned by fellow members of the Tweede Kamer for releasing a series of campaign videos in which the party calls MPs of Turkish origin 'traitors' using the Dutch word landverraders (lit. 'traitors against the nation') - a term which carries loaded references to the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands.[44]

Incidents involving Palestinian flags[edit]

Party members have been caught in several incidents involving Palestinian flags. During a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016, party member Tunahan Kuzu wore a badge with the flag and explicitly refused to shake his hand.[20] In May 2019, Kuzu had a Palestinian flag confiscated by members of the IDF near the Al-Aqsa Mosque.[45] Members of Denk's youth wing Oppositie have posted images of children wearing keffiyehs with openly Anti-Zionist captions, together with flags.

Accusations of antisemitism[edit]

In 2017, the party distributed a document with parliamentary questions, accusing the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel and Likoed (the Dutch section of World Likud) of starting a smear campaign against the party, accusing the former of having links with the Israeli government.[22] The former sued supporters of the party for inciting hatred, the closest possible legal article which criminalises denial of the Holocaust.[46]

During a debate on the legality of kosher ritual slaughter, MP Selçuk Öztürk referred to "the long arm of Israel and the Jews influencing the Tweede Kamer".[22][21]

Election results[edit]

Tweede Kamer
Election Votes Seats Government
Number % Number +/–
2017 216,147 2.1 (#12)
3 / 150
Increase 3 in opposition
European Parliament
Election Votes Seats
Number % Number +/–
2019 60,669 1.1%
0 / 29
2019 provincial elections
Provincial Votes % Seats
North Holland 28,035 2.4%
1 / 55
Drenthe 579 0.25%
0 / 41
South Holland 39,800 2.73%
1 / 55
Fryslân 493 0.17%
0 / 43
Gelderland 11,298 1.21%
0 / 55
Utrecht 13,095 2.13%
1 / 49
Flevoland 3,326 2.09%
1 / 41
Limburg 4,322 0.95%
0 / 47
North Brabant 12,415 1.23%
0 / 55
Overijssel 6,495 1.24%
0 / 47
Groningen 1,081 0.42%
0 / 43
Zeeland 814 0.48%
0 / 39
Total 121,753 1,67%
4 / 570
2018 municipal elections
Municipality Votes % Seats
Amsterdam 23,138 6,7%
3 / 45
Arnhem 3,147 5,2%
2 / 39
Amersfoort 2,390 3,4%
1 / 39
Alkmaar 647 1,4%
0 / 39
Deventer 2,026 4,6%
1 / 37
Eindhoven 2,864 3,5%
1 / 45
Enschede 2,306 3,7%
1 / 39
Lelystad 958 3,7%
1 / 35
Rotterdam 16,955 7,4%
4 / 45
Roermond 835 3,3%
1 / 31
Schiedam 3,260 11,7%
4 / 45
Utrecht 7,662 4,9%
2 / 45
Veenendaal 1,243 4,0%
1 / 33
Zaanstad 3,401 5,5%
2 / 39
Total 70,832 1,0%
24 / 7,886

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jongerenbeweging OPPOSITIE". Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  2. ^ "DENK". Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Forum voor Democratie vierde ledenpartij, middenpartijen verliezen juist veel leden". NRC (in Dutch). Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e DENK anders - verkiezingsprogramma DENK 2021-2025 [THINK differently - election manifesto DENK 2021-2025.] (in Dutch). The Hague: Politieke Beweging Denk. 2020.
  5. ^ "DENK wil burger heropvoeden. Waar zagen we dat eerder? - EW". (in Dutch). 16 November 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  6. ^ "The Dutch election suggests a new kind of identity politics". Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  7. ^ "A Pro-Immigrant Party Rises in the Netherlands". The New York Times. 29 July 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d "6 most eyecatching fringe parties in the Dutch election". Politico. 3 February 2017.
  9. ^ "Ethnic minorities desert Labour, turn to Denk ahead of March vote". Dutch News. 6 February 2017.
  10. ^ "A Pro-Immigrant Party Rises in the Netherlands". Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  11. ^ "DENK: The Long Needed Multicultural Party?". 25 July 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  12. ^ Wiegman, Marcel (24 March 2018). "Denk vindt de Turkse stem in Amsterdam". Het Parool (in Dutch).
  13. ^ "Een gelukkige Turk is niet blij met Denk". RTL Nieuws (in Dutch). 23 March 2018.
  14. ^ a b c "How will Turkish Germans vote in the country's upcoming election?". Deutsche Welle. 24 August 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Tweede Kamer erkent Armeense genocide". (in Dutch). Algemeen Dagblad. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b "Kamerlid DENK weigert Israëlische premier hand te geven". (in Dutch). Algemeen Dagblad. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  21. ^ a b Liphshiz, Cnaan. "I was just accused of being an Israeli spy in the Dutch parliament". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  22. ^ a b c Luden, Hannah. "Denk wakkert antisemitisme aan". (in Dutch). Algemeen Dagblad. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Links en rechts".
  26. ^ Siegal, Nina (29 July 2016). "A Pro-Immigrant Party Rises in the Netherlands". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  27. ^ Kiesraad (22 April 2016). "Register - Verkiezingen -". (in Dutch). Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  28. ^ "Turkse coup in Den Haag". RTL Nieuws (in Dutch). 3 April 2020. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  29. ^ a b Öztürk, Ahmet Erdi; Sözeri, Semiha. "Diyanet as a Turkish Foreign Policy Tool: Evidence from the Netherlands and Bulgaria". Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association: 3, 12–13, 15. doi:10.1017/S175504831700075X. Archived from the original on 17 April 2019.
  30. ^ "Dutch party expels two Turkish-origin lawmakers - World News". Hürriyet Daily News.
  31. ^ "The Netherlands' migrant parties: Representing the new Europeans -". - Dialogue with the Islamic World.
  32. ^ "Onderzoek over IS-steun Turkse jongeren deugde niet". Volkskrant. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  33. ^ "Een Nieuke Politieke Beweging" (PDF). Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  34. ^ a b "Denkend Aan Nederland" (PDF). Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  35. ^ "Uitslagenkaart Tweede Kamerverkiezingen 2017 per stembureau". (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  36. ^ Andreas KouwenhovenHugo Logtenberg 10 februari 2017. "Nep-aanhang is online actief voor politieke partij Denk - NRC". Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  37. ^ "Dit is hoe de media (NRC) werken". Facebook. 11 February 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  38. ^ "Jongeren van partij Denk aangesproken op nepprofielen". Trouw. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  39. ^ "Kuzu: trollen verleden tijd bij Denk | NOS". 14 February 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  40. ^ Door: ANP (16 February 2017). "Kuzu spreekt tweede man Denk aan op inzet 'trollen' | NU - Het laatste nieuws het eerst op". Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  41. ^ "Kuzu tegen tweede man Denk: zo gaan wij niet te werk". 17 February 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  42. ^ "DENK plande een nepnieuwscampagne onder PVV-vlag". NPO Radio 1 (in Dutch). Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  43. ^ "Denk werkte aan nepadvertentie PVV". (in Dutch). Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  44. ^ van der Aa, Edwin (13 March 2020). "Kamer veroordeelt Denk om intimiderende filmpjes". Algemeen Dagblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  45. ^ "Kuzu met Palestijnse vlag staande gehouden in Jeruzalem". (in Dutch). Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  46. ^ "CIDI doet aangifte tegen Holocaustontkennende uitingen op Facebook-pagina Kuzu · CIDI". CIDI (in Dutch). 21 May 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2020.

External links[edit]