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|Leader||Pim Fortuyn (2001–2002) †
Fred Teeven (2002–2003)
Haitske van der Linde (2003–2004)
Fons Zinken (2004–2007)
|Chairman||Jan Nagel (1999–2004)
Fons Zinken (2004–2007)
|Founded||25 March 1999|
|Dissolved||10 September 2007|
Historically there have always been parties in States-Provincial (provincial legislatures) and Gemeenteraad (municipal assemblies or city councils) that were independent from the national party system. In the predominantly Catholic south of the Netherlands during the 1950s, the Catholic People's Party gained eighty percent of the vote in national elections, local and provincial groups of independents were organized.
During the 1980s, independent parties began to spread to other parts of the Netherlands. Some successful groups like Independent Rijswijk began to move towards a national movement. A congress for this purpose held in 1989 did not result in much progress towards this goal, although independent parties were still very successful in municipal elections especially in Hilversum and Utrecht.
Some of them choose the name "Leefbaar" (liveable). It became a distinctive political movement. It is not a party in itself but consisted of many municipal branches. These branches had no formal ties, and often have radically different programs, sharing only their disdain for the political establishment.
In 1999, prominent media personalities Henk Westbroek and Jan Nagel, chairs of the highly successful Leefbaar Utrecht and Leefbaar Hilversum parties respectively, founded Leefbaar Nederland as a spin-off from their local parties. Nagel became the party's chair. Nagel had previously been chair of the VARA, a broadcaster linked to the PvdA.
In 2001 the party's support and visibility began to increase. They came to be seen as an opposition movement against the second Kok cabinet. In November 2001 Pim Fortuyn was elected as the party's lijsttrekker. On 10 February, a few months before the election, he was discharged because of a controversial interview published in the Volkskrant newspaper. Fortuyn subsequently organized his own party, the Lijst Pim Fortuyn. On 10 March the Amsterdam public prosecutor Fred Teeven was chosen as new lijsttrekker. In the elections of May 2002 the party won only two seats in the House of Representatives.
In the elections of 2003, self-help guru Emile Ratelband was put forward by the party board as their candidate for the lijsttrekkers' position. Teeven, who had gained some recognition as MP, withdrew his candidacy for the position when a motion of no confidence was not supported by the party's congress. During a tumultuous congress, the 22-year-old Haitske van der Linde, the daughter of TV personality Wubbo van der Linde and candidate of the party's youth movement J@L, was elected lijsttrekker. She was unable to hold on to the two seats the party held, and the party left parliament. Ratelband, who had formed his own list, was still less successful in the polls. The party tried to dissolve itself, but there were not enough members present at the congress to do that, and the party left the public spotlight. In 2006 the party announced that it would disband itself: it owed a large debt to the Ministry of Home Affairs, who had lent them money for the 2003 elections, and only a handful of paying members were left.
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The term "Leefbaar" was turned into a political brand by the Leefbaar Utrecht and Hilversum parties; the founders tried to reproduce this success by taking over the name.
Ideology and Issues
The party was a populist party, oriented at democratizing society and solving several difficult political issues pragmatically. The party saw itself as a movement against the 'old parties' and especially those cooperating in the Kok II cabinet.
They had a ten-point plan which included:
- implementing referendums
- combatting bureaucracy
- strengthening the citizen's say over their own life.
- a just asylum-seeker policy
This table shows the results of the LN in elections to the House of Representatives, Senate and European elections, as well as the party's political leadership: the fractievoorzitter, is the chair of the parliamentary party and the lijsttrekker is the party's top candidate in the general election, these posts are normally taken by the party's leader.
|2002||2||0||0||Fred Teeven||Fred Teeven||opposition|
|2003||0||0||0||Haitske van der Linde||not in parliament||extra-parliamenary|
Municipal and Provincial Government
The municipal and local Leefbaar parties were not an official part of the party. Some of these parties, most notably Leefbaar Rotterdam were however founded around the same time hoping to gain from the same momentum. Many of these parties are represented in provincial and municipal legislatures and cooperated in several municipal executives. They were highly successful in the 2002 municipal elections, but lost much of their support in the 2006 municipal elections.
The party was supported by many independent voters, who no longer felt connected to a particular party.
The highest organ of LN was the Congress in which every member could participate. It convened once every year. It appointed the party board and decided the order of the House of Representatives, Senate and European Parliament candidate lists and had the final say over the party program.
The party's youth organisation was called Jong@Leefbaar.nl (Young@Livable.nl; J@L). The party published De Leefbaar Koerier (Livable Courier). The scientific institute of the party was called Foundation Scientific Bureau Livable Netherlands, which published De Fundering (The Foundation).
Internationally, Leefbaar Nederland may be compared to Forza Italia, a populist party centered on a prominent media personality.