Political Parties in the Batavian Kingdom
The Sociaal-Democratische Arbeiders Partij ("Social-Democratic Workers' Party") is the kingdom's largest leftist party. It was founded in 1918, after the First Great War, as a result of the merger between two social-democratic parties, the Bataafsche Socialistische Partij (BSP, founded in 1887) and the Bataafsche Werklieden Partij (BWP, founded in 1899). Although the SDAP has been one of the biggest parties since its foundation, its influence on national (but not local) affairs was small before the Second Great War. That situation after the war, when it became the nucleus of five governments in the years 1949-1958, four of which were led by SDAP leader Willem Dreesmann. After that, the SDAP has participated in several coalition governments, and except for the most recent years it has always been the first or second party in parliament. Leader of the SDAP is the incumbent prime minister Fred Hemcke, chairman of the caucus in the Tweede Kamer is Marcus Lindt.
The Bataafse Communistische Partij ("Batavian Communist Party") was formed in 1913 and is the oldest political party still in existence. It played an important role in the resistance against German occupation during the Second Great War, and took part in the first national government after the war (Dreesmann I). Since that time, the BCP has been in constant decline. At several occasions, groups of members left the party or were expelled from it. This led to the creation of the Socialistische Unie (1950-1957), as well as several other groups, including those that would later form the Socialistische Volkspartij. In 1991 the better part of the BCP joined Ecotopisch Links. A rump party has still been operating under the name BCP since then, but never played a role of any significance anymore. Since the fairure of the CSDS, communism doesn't seem to be an option to the Batavians anymore.
The political formation called Ecotopisch Links ("Ecotopic Left") was created in 1991 as the result of the merger between the Radicale Partij (RP, split off from the RKVP in 1967), the Partij van Pacifisten en Socialisten (PPS, formed in 1957), the Progressive Evangelische Partij (PEP, split off from the CDU in 1980), the Groenen ("Greens", formed in 1983), as well as part of the Bataafse Communistische Partij (BCP). It is a steadily growing opposition party to the left of the SDAP, but was never able to gain much influence on national politics. Although EL is not strictly a socialist party, socialism is part of its ideology.
The Socialistische Volkspartij ("Socialist People's Party") is a leftist socialist party, located on the political spectrum somewhere between the SDAP, the BCP and Ecotopic Left. It was formed in 1975 as a result of the merger of small, predominantly troskyist groups that split off from the BCP and the SDAP. Initially, the party led a marginal existence and played a role in some towns only. In 1994 the SVP made its appearance in the Tweede Kamer, and since that moment the growth of the party has been steady; currently, it poses a serious threat to the position of the SDAP.
The Vrijzinnig-Democratische Conventie ("Free-minded Democratic Convention") was formed in January 2005 as a result of the merger of two liberal parties, the VVV and the Democraten '70, which cooperated closely in two purple governments (1994-2002), and both suffered a severe defeat in the 2002 elections. In the 2003 elections, the two parties participated with one list, the Vrijzinnig-Democratische Lijst.
Current leader is vice-premier Marinus van Esschen.
The liberal Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Vooruitgang ("People's Party for Freedom and Progress") has a history even longer than the SDAP. One of its ancestors is the first political party ever founded on Batavian soil (in 1865), the Liberale Unie. The Liberale Unie merged with several smaller parties into the Verenigde Liberale Staatspartij ("United Liberal State Party") in 1921, which played a significant role in several coalition governments before and shortly after the Second Great War. In 1949 it merged with the left-liberal Vrijzinnig-Democratische Bond ("Free-minded Democratic League") into the VVV; some members of the VDB joined the SDAP instead.
Except for the first years after the war, the VVV and the SDAP have always been sworn enemies. The fact that both parties excluded each other mutually was a particularly comfortable situation for the centrist confessional parties, which therefore could always rule the country in cooperation with either one of them. That situation changed radically in 1994 with the formation of the so-called "purple coalition" that would last for the following eight years. During this period, the VVV gradually moved from the right to the political center, and after the VVV and the left-liberal Democraten '70 suffered heavy defeats in the 2002 elections, the two decided to cooperate in the Vrijzinnig-Democratische Lijst. In October 2004, the congresses of both parties decide to merge into one party by January 2005.
Radical democratic party that was founded in 1970 and participated in the progressive government of Joop Uylenburg (1973-1977). It gradually became a left-liberal party, thus filling the blank that had existed since the Vrijzinnig-Democratische Bond ("Free-minded Democratic League", 1901-1949) had merged into the VVV and the SDAP. The party has encountered great heights and depths since then, it participated in several coalition governments and was the nucleus of the "purple coalition" with the SDAP and the VVV. Its participation in the impopular rightist government of Zeger-Jan Quaadfliegh has cost the party virtually all its support among the population. In the 2003 elections, Democraten '70 participated on one list with the VVV, the VDL, and in January 2005 the parties merged into one, the Vrijzinnig-Democratische Conventie.
The Rooms-Katholieke Volkspartij is the country's largest confessional party. Traditionally, it has been the party of Catholics all over the country, and was especially strong in the southern provinces. It was founded in 1895 as the Bond van Katholieken ("League of Catholics"), which was renamed Rooms-Katholieke Staatspartij ("Roman Catholic State Party", RKSP) in 1926 and the slightly more modern sounding Rooms-Katholieke Volkspartij ("Roman Catholic People's Party") in 1949.
The RKVP, as well as its predecessors, have always been a major political force in the Kingdom, dominating political life until 1994. All prime ministers between 1949 and 1994, except Dreesmann and Uylenburg, were members of the RKVP. Its current leader is Justice minister and vice-premier Julius Wassen, and former prime minister Zeger-Jan Quaadfliegh, who is currently chairman of the caucus.
The Christen-Democratische Unie ("Christian-Democratic Union") was formed in 1973 after the merger of two conservative protestant parties, the Anti-Bonapartistische Partij (ABP) and the Christelijk-Historischen (CH). These were established in 1879 and 1908 respectively to represent the values of, roughly, the Dutch-Reformed and Reformed churches. In spite of their anti-Catholicism, they always worked closely with the RKVP, even though they generally stood right of it. In the postwar period, they gradually lost support among the population, until they decided to join forces in 1973 and merged into the CDU. Current leader of the CDU is minister of Colonies, Eelco Geugjes.
To the right of the CDU is the Unie van Protestants-Christelijke Partijen ("Union of Protestant-Christian Parties"). It was founded in 2001 as a result of the merger between the Staatkundig Gereformeerde Bond ("Political Reformed League") and the Gereformeerd Politieke Unie ("Reformatory Political Union"). The SGB had been founded in 1918 as a protest against the ABP's cooperation with the Catholic RKSP, the GPU in 1950 after a rift in the Dutch-Reformed church. Since the 1970s, the two parties have always cooperated closely, and in 2001 they finally merged into one party. Its extremely stable base of support are parts of the provinces Gelderland, Utrecht, Holland and Zeeland (the Batavian equivalent of the "Bible Belt").
Bewoonbaar Batavië ("Inhabitable Batavia") was formed in 1999, mainly as an anti-The Hague protest party. Its base were various local parties and groups, as well as a few celebrities. Parties like that have existed before, and BB would probably have met a similar fate if popular discontent with politics in general hadn't been growing considerably during the 1990s. The party suddenly made a huge leap in the polls after it elected the well-known sociologist, publicist and enfant-terrible Teun Geluck as its leader in 2001, and BB seemed to be destined to become a major political force. However, after some highly controversial opinions had been expressed by Geluck in the press, the board of the BB dismissed him shortly before the 2002 elections. Geluck then established his own party, the Lijst Teun Geluck, and won the elections, while those in the BB who had not followed him won only three seats. After this, BB experienced a severe crisis. Looking out for a charismatic new leader, the party almost elected the controversial Lingoneural Conditioning guru Theofiel Ringeloor. When this did not happen, both Ringeloor and another small group, Batavië Op Lange Termijn ("Batavia on the Long Term", BOLT) left the party.
In the 2003 elections the BB lost one seat, neither BOLT nor Lijst Ringeloor won any seats. Until 2004 former public prosecutor Ferry Teefjes was chairman of the BB caucus. He was a much appreciated parliamentarian, but left the party in 2004 after a conflict with the party leadership. In the 2005 elections the party lost both its seats, and in 2007 the party was officially dissolved. Teefjes would later become a prominent member of the liberal VDC.
After the well-known sociologist, publicist, ex-professor and general enfant-terrible Teun Geluck had been dismissed as leader of BB, he formed his own candidate list in a matter of weeks to participate in the May 2002 elections. His witty and unorthodox style of debating, his attacks on the established political order and his populist opinions swept his opponents off their feet and soon brought him unprecedented popularity. On May 6 he was shot, but he survived the assault. Subsequently, his party, the Lijst Teun Geluck won the elections and became the biggest party in parliament. Geluck himself became prime minister. However, his government became all but a success. His party consisted mostly of people without any political experience, opportunists (quickly nicknamed Geluckzoekers "fortune seekers"). About two prominent LTG ministers (Bom and Hoogkamp) it become known that "they could literally drink each other's blood". Both the lack of talented people among Geluck's collaborators and his own inability to control them led to a whole series of scandals and affairs, including a rift within the party within weeks. The conflicts culminated when during a meeting of the LTC caucus one MP threatened his colleagues with a gun. After less than three months the LTF was factually kicked out of government by its coalition partners, and Geluck's government ended. Disillusioned, Geluck withdrew from politics.
The LTG continued to exist, but in the 2003 elections kept only 5 of its 41 seats. Before and after that, several new parties have split off from the LTG: the Partij voor Nieuwe Politiek ("Party for New Politics", PNP) and the Conservatieve Volkspartij ("Conservative People's Party", CVP) in 2002, the Nieuwe Rechtse Unie ("New Rightist Union", NRU) in 2003, and the Partij voor Recht, Vrijheid en Liberalisme ("Party for Justice, Freedom and Liberalism", PRVL) in 2005.
In the 2005 elections, the LTG, participated under the name Geluck Voor Iedereen ("Happiness for Everyone") and won two seats: party leader Meindert Tabak and former LTG minister IJsbrand Bierman. In the same year, however, Bierman was expelled from the party, and in the 2006 elections the LTG (now GVI) definitively lost its parliamentary representation. It was dissolved in 2008.
In 2006, two prominent LTG members left the party, and together with one dissident MP from the VDC they formed a new party, Beweging Batavië Eén ("Movement Batavia One", BBE). In the same year Bierman formed a new party as well, the Batavië-Partij (BP). Although this party was not represented on a national level, it played a modest role in the Staten van Holland during subsequent years.
On September 6, 2004, three members of the right-conservative wing of the VVV caucus left the party and founded their own group under the name Groep-Wildschut, led by Frans Wildschut. They were joined in their efforts by several other prominent VVV members, including a board member, several provincial deputees as well as a few town mayors. Their main motivation had been the fact that the VVV had move to the political centre far too much; they were displeased with the participation of their party in the purple coalition, and especially with the recent close cooperation with Democraten '70. Although the Groep-Wildschut has not developed into a real political party yet, the Liberale Lijst ("Liberal List"), the name under which it participated in the 2005 elections, gained seven seats, and the group is doing very well in the polls, sometimes even outdoing the VVV itself. It is expected that if Wildschut manages to gather the various remnants of BB and LTF behind himself, providing them with the charismatic leader they have missed since Teun Geluck's withdrawal from politics, he could become a serious threat to the established political order.
After the Second Great War, ultra-right splinter parties have always existed in the Batavian Kingdom, but they were marginal in all cases. Only in 1982 the small nationalist party Centrum-Unie gained a seat in the Tweede Kamer. However, this MP, party chief Jannes Boertien, left the party after a conflict in 1984 and founded his own Centraal-Democraten. This marked the end of the role of the CU, and the Centraal-Democraten became its main heir. The remnants of the CU were transformed into the Centrum-Unie '88 in 1988, but apart from a few seats in town councils the party never gained importance. It was forbidden in 1998.
In the spring of the same year, the Bataafse Nationale Partij (BNP) was founded. It was intended to become an umbrella organisation for several extreme right splinter parties, but initially it looked rather like an additional splinter party. However, it panned out differently: the Bataafs Nationaal Blok (BNB, split off from CU'88 in 1991) would join the party, and so did the bulk of the now forbidden CU'88.
Meanwhile, the Centraal-Democraten disappeared from parliament in 1998 and soon became the scene of internal conflicts, which ultimately led to the expulsion of Boertien from the party. In 1999 he founded a new one, the Bataafse Volkspartij ("Batavian People's Party", BVP). He hoped for the same effect has he had accomplished earlier with the Centraal-Democraten, but it stayed away and the BVP remained a marginal party. For the Centraal-Democraten themselves, after the departure of the egoistic firebrand Boertien it became easier to pull together with the BNP, although an actual merger would not take place before 2004.
The BNP gained three seats in the 2003 elections. Its list included former members of the Centraal-Democraten, the BNB, CU'88 and the BNP itself. In 2004, it finally merged with the Centraal-Democraten and with the Nieuwe Rechtse Unie ("New Rightist Union", NRU), a group that had left the Lijst Teun Geluck in 2003, into the Nationale Partij ("National Party"). In the 2005 elections, it gained five seats. Despite its radical and extremist past, the NP has changed its tone towards a more moderate one, thus trying to become a party that nobody would be ashamed of voting for.
Other parties have remained marginal. After Boertien's death, his BVP merged with the old but tiny Bataafse Volksunie ("Batavian People's Union", BVU) and a radical group that had left the BNP, the Nationaal Front. Even though it was joined in 2005 by a group of extremists expelled from the NP for misconduct, it never gained any seats in parliament.