Socialist Party (Netherlands)
The Socialist Party (SP, Dutch pronunciation: [ɛs peː]; Dutch: Socialistische Partij, Dutch pronunciation: [soːʃiaːˈlɪstisə pɑrˈtɛi]), founded as the Communist Party of the Netherlands/Marxist–Leninist (KPN/ML, Dutch: Communistische Partij van Nederland/Marxistisch-Leninistisch) is a left-wing, democratic socialist political party in the Netherlands.
|Secretary||Hans van Heijningen|
|Leader in the Senate||Tiny Kox|
|Leader in the House of Representatives||Lilian Marijnissen|
|Founded||22 October 1971|
|Split from||KEN (ml)|
|Headquarters||De Moed Partijbureau SP Snouckaertlaan 70, Amersfoort|
|Think tank||Scientific Office of the SP|
4 / 75
|House of Representatives|
14 / 150
35 / 570
0 / 26
0 / 12
After the 2006 general election, the SP became one of the major parties of the Netherlands with 25 seats of 150, an increase of 16 seats. In the 2010 general election, the party obtained 15 seats. In the 2012 general election, the SP maintained those 15 seats. In the 2017 general election, the party went to 14 seats, losing one.
The party has been in opposition since it was formed.
Foundation until 1994Edit
The Socialist Party was founded in October 1971 as a Maoist party named the Communist Party of the Netherlands/Marxist–Leninist (KPN/ML). This KPN/ML was formed following a split from the Communist Unity Movement of the Netherlands (Marxist–Leninist). The issue that provoked the split from KEN(ml) was an intense debate on the role of intellectuals in the class struggle. The founders of KPN/ML, with Daan Monjé in a prominent role, belonged to the proletarian wing of the KEN(ml), who did not want an organisation dominated by students and intellectuals. In 1972, the KPN/ML changed its name to the Socialist Party (Dutch: Socialistiese Partij). Even in its early years, while adhering to Maoist principles such as organising the masses, the SP was very critical of the Communist Party of China, condemning the support of the Chinese party for UNITA in Angola with the brochure "Antwoord aan de dikhuiden van de KEN" ("Answer to the thick skins of the KEN").
The SP started to build a network of local parties, with strong local roots. The SP had its own General Practitioners' offices, provided advice to citizens and set up local action groups. This developed within front organisations, separate trade unions, environmental organisations and tenant associations. This work resulted in a strong representation in several municipal legislatures, notably in Oss. Also in some States-Provincial, the SP gained a foothhold, especially in the province of North Brabant.
Since 1977, SP attempted to enter the House of Representatives, but the party failed in 1977, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1989. In 1991, the SP officially scrapped the term Marxism–Leninism because the party had evolved to the point that the term was no longer considered appropriate.
In 1994 general election, the party's first members of parliament, namely Remi Poppe and Jan Marijnissen, were elected. Its slogan was "Vote Against" (Dutch: Stem tegen). In the 1990s, the major party of the Dutch left, the Labour Party (PvdA), moved to the centre, making the SP and the GreenLeft viable alternatives for some left-wing voters. In the 1998 general election, the party was rewarded for its opposition to the purple government of the first Kok cabinet and more than doubled its seats to five. In the 1999 European Parliament election, Erik Meijer was elected into the European Parliament for the SP.
In the 2002 general election, the SP ran with the slogan "Vote in Favor" (Dutch: Stem Voor). The party nearly doubled to nine seats. This result was kept in the 2003 general election. Leading up to the latter election, the SP was predicted to win as many as 24 (16%) seats in the polls. However, these gains failed to materialise as many potential SP voters chose to cast strategic votes for the Labour Party which stood a good chance of winning the elections. In the 2004 European Parliament election, its one seat was doubled to two.
In the 2005 referendum on the European Constitution, the SP was the only left-wing party in parliament to oppose it. Support for the party grew in opinion polls, but it fell slightly after the referendum.
The 2006 municipal elections were a success for the SP which more than doubled its total number of seats. This can in part be explained by the party standing in many more municipalities, but it can also be seen as a reaction to the so-called "right-wing winter" in national politics as the welfare reforms of the right-wing second Balkenende cabinet were called by its centre-left and left-wing opponents. In a reaction to these results, Marijnissen declared on election night that the "SP has grown up".
After the untimely end of the second Balkenende cabinet and the minority government of the third Balkenende cabinet, the SP gained 16 seats in the parliament after the 2006 general election, nearly tripling its parliamentary representation. With 25 seats, the SP became the third largest party of the Dutch parliament. In the 2006–2007 cabinet formation, the SP was unable to work out its policy differences with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and remained in opposition against the fourth Balkenende cabinet which comprised the CDA, the PvdA and the Christian Union parties.
In the 2007 provincial elections, the SP gained 54 provincial legislators more than in the 2003 provincial elections and made it to a total of 83 provincial legislators. As a result of the provincial elections, the SP has increased its representatives in the Senate of the Netherlands (upper house) to 11 from the 4 it had previously.
In the 2010 general election, the SP fared worse than in the previous election, with a loss of 10 seats, a gain of 15 and only 9.9% of the overall vote. According to an opinion poll of January 2012, the SP would have won 32 seats and become for the first time in its history the biggest party of the country if elections were held. However, the SP's main rival, the PvdA, surged ahead in the polls as the biggest party on the left in the final weeks of the election.
In the 2012 general election, while the PvdA won 38 seats in parliament, the SP took only 15 seats, remaining at its 2010 level. In the 2017 general election, the SP lost one seat and finished sixth while the PvdA suffered the loss of 29 seats.
The party was founded as the Communist Party of the Netherlands/Marxist–Leninist (KPN/ML) in 1971. In 1972, it adopted the Socialist Party name (Dutch: Socialistiese Partij), with an unofficial spelling using -iese instead of -ische. In 1993, the party changed its name to the correctly spelled Socialistische Partij.
Ideology and issuesEdit
The party labels itself as socialist, but it has also been described as social-democratic. In its manifesto of principles, it calls for a society where human dignity, equality and solidarity are most important. Its core issues are employment, social welfare and investing in health care, public education and public safety. The party opposes privatisation of public services and is critical of globalisation.
Parliament (States-General, Staten-Generaal)Edit
|House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer)|
|Election year||No. of
overall seats won
0 / 150
0 / 150
0 / 150
0 / 150
0 / 150
2 / 150
5 / 150
9 / 150
9 / 150
25 / 150
15 / 150
15 / 150
14 / 150
|Election year||List||No. of
overall seats won
0 / 26
0 / 26
1 / 26
2 / 26
2 / 25
2 / 26
0 / 26
Members of the House of RepresentativesEdit
- Lilian Marijnissen, parliamentary leader
- Renske Leijten, deputy parliamentary leader
- Ronald van Raak, parliamentary secretary
- Sandra Beckerman
- Jasper van Dijk
- Frank Futselaar
- Maarten Hijink
- Sadet Karabulut
- Bart van Kent
- Nine Kooiman
- Peter Kwint
- Cem Laçin
- Michiel van Nispen
- Mahir Alkaya
Members of the SenateEdit
- Tiny Kox, parliamentary leader
- Arda Gerkens, deputy parliamentary leader and parliamentary secretary
- Bastiaan van Apeldoorn
- Hans-Martin Don
- Tuur Elzinga
- Frank Köhler
- Meta Meijer
- Bob Ruers
- Anneke Wezel
Members of the European ParliamentEdit
Local and provincial governmentEdit
The SP provides no King's Commissioners or mayors which are appointed by the Minister of the Interior. The SP opposes this procedure and wants mayors to be elected by the municipal council. The SP is part of the provincial executive (Gedeputeerde staten) in six out of twelve provinces. The SP is also part of several municipal executives (College van burgemeester en wethouders), notably in Amsterdam and Utrecht.
As of 2016, the SP has 41,710 members and has grown considerably since it entered parliament in 1994, making it the third largest party in terms of its number of members. Like other parties in the Netherlands, the SP has seen a decline in membership in recent years.
The highest body within the SP is the party council, formed by the chairs of all local branches and the party board. It convenes at least four times a year. The party board is elected by the party congress which is formed by delegates from the municipal branches. The congress decides on the order of the candidates for national and European elections and it has a final say over the party program.
At the party congress which was held on 28 November in 2015, Ron Meyer was elected as the secretary of the party board. Previously, he was working for the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV). Ron Meyer was elected along with 10 other party board members.
The SP is a constant active force in extra-parliamentary protest. Many of its members are active in local campaigning groups, often independent groups dominated by the SP, or in the SP neighbourhood centres, where the party provides help for the working class.
An example more of nationwide nature is the movement for a National Healthcare Fund (Nationaal ZorgFonds). This campaign demonstrates the necessity of a single payer system and wants to remove market and commercialisation aspects of the current healthcare system. The expensive advertising annually organised by healthcare insurance companies in order to attract new customers is a big example. The NHS inspired movement thinks that money should solely be spent on healthcare itself. Switching from one insurance company to another can only be done once every year as restricted by Dutch law.
The youth-wing is called ROOD (the word rood is officially written in capitals, but it is not an acronym). The SP publishes the magazine the Tribune monthly which was also the name of a historical Communist Party of the Netherlands newspaper.
At one point, two Trotskyist entryist groups operated within the SP. This included Offensive (now called Socialist Alternative) and the International Socialists. The latter was expelled on the grounds of double membership. The similar yet very small group Offensief was not considered a factor of power, but its members were banned from the SP in February 2009, on the grounds of being "a party within a party". Members of the party Socialist Alternative Politics still operate within the SP.
Relationships to other partiesEdit
The SP has always been in opposition on a national level, although there are now numerous examples of government participation on a local and provincial level. On many issues, the SP is the most left-wing party in parliament. Between 1994 and 2002, the Labour Party (PvdA) had a conscious strategy to isolate the party, always voting against the latter's proposals. However, the party did co-operate well with GreenLeft. After its disastrous election result in 2002, the PvdA, now back in opposition, did co-operate with the SP against some of the policies of the centre-right Balkenende governmentt and their relationship improved significantly. New tensions arose after the 2006 general election, when the SP approached the PvdA in electoral support and the PvdA joined the government whereas the SP did not.
As of 2016, the ruling VVD–PvdA coalition has meant that the PvdA lost a huge part of its base. In the polls, the party stand at around 12 seats and losing 26, a stable position for the last three years. Despite that, the SP has gained little to nothing, remaining stable at around 16 seats in the same polls.
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- Partij, Socialistische. "An activist party".
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- Tribune's website (in Dutch)
- Jan Marijnissen & Karel Glastra van Loon, "The Last War of the 20th Century: Discussions on the new world order" (On the threshold of the new millennium, Jan Marijnissen en Karel Glastra van Loon spoke with prominent experts in the area of peace and security, both within the Netherlands and abroad.)
- Jan Marijnissen, "Enough!: a socialist bites back" (SP-chairman Jan Marijnissen summarises and internationalises his opposition against the ideological mainstream in today's politics throughout the world. Neoliberalism, argues Marijnissen, causes the return of 19th century social and democratic circumstances. Who does not agree, has the duty to stand up and say: enough!)
- Harry van Bommel & Niels de Heij, "A Better Europe Starts Now" (European cooperation has already brought us many benefits, for example in the areas of human rights and of our prosperity. That does not mean that it is always good or that cooperation in all areas offers added value. The outcome of the referendum on the European Constitution demonstrated that a clear majority holds the European Union as it is now in little esteem, and that there was a need for a broad social discussion over Europe and the role of the Netherlands within it. This paper is intended to contribute to such a debate by making proposals for a more democratic, slimmed down, balanced and affordable EU, as well as a fruitful European agricultural policy.)
- Anja Meulenbelt & Harry van Bommel, "The promised land, the stolen land". (March 2007) (A summary of the study by Anja Meulenbelt and Harry van Bommel).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Socialistische Partij.|
- Official website (in Dutch)
- Official website (in English)
- Speech by former SP leader Jan Marijnissen at the congress of the Socialist Left Party of Norway which gives an overview of the SP's history and policies (24 March 2007)