The Dutch nine-to-twelve-party system is sometimes hard to understand for foreigners; especially when the small parties come into play. Therefore I’m running a mini-series that treats all eleven parties that stand a decent chance of getting seats in the upcoming elections. We’ll go from largest to smallest.
Today we’ll continue with the PvdD.
The PvdD is a witness party for animal rights. Founded in 2002, it first entered the 2003 elections, with too few votes for a seat. In 2006 it participated again, now supported by a surprisingly large cast of well-known writers, an actress, and a former comedian (who accidentally and as a joke invented the extreme right thirty years back, but that’s a story for another post).
The PvdD says animal welfare and well-being supersedes left and right, christian and secular, and refuses to align with any of the political blocks. Now usually this is a sure sign of a pretty right-wing party, but in the case of the PvdD this conclusion is manifestly false.
Due to its chosen topic I currently tend to place it in the left block, but at other times I take the party at its word and keep it outside of the block structure. You can follow my vaccilations on the polls page, which shows my current guess at its alignment.
In 2007 party leader Thieme said in an interview that Adam and Eve had been vegetarians, and it gradually dawned that she was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
One of the famous writer-supporters of the party, who has become known for his novels in which he discusses his youth as a Gereformeerde and his leaving the church, was not amused, because this would mean Thieme does not believe in evolution. All this became a minor row that kept people occupied for a while.
Incidentally, the instinctive anti-reaction when Thieme’s faith came up argues for placing the PvdD in the left block.
I expect the party to stick around. There’s always room for another witness party, and a PvdD vote is a sort of a protest vote, although not necessarily against the political system.
That said, I find it very hard to divine with which parties the PvdD communicates electorally. GL is an obvious candidate because the PvdD has robbed the animal welfare theme from this party. Other than that, though, I’m not sure. I guess it gets most of its votes on the left, but that’s just my general guesstimate, and there have been reports that it draws former right-wing voters, too.
The only danger would be a huge flight to the big centre parties, notably PvdA and CDA. All small parties suffer then, and the theme of animal rights is new enough that many PvdD voters will at least hesitate.
If the PvdD belongs on the left, it could reinforce a left-wing coalition, but only if that coalition is in very dire straits. If PvdA+D66+SP+GL won 74 or 75 seats ... and both PvdA and D66 would decide to go over left, and not right ... possibly.
Opposition is by far the safest bet. That’s the natural place for witness parties, anyway.
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This is the political blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer, in Amsterdam. It’s a hobby blog where he follows Dutch politics for the benefit of those twelve foreigners that are interested in such matters, as well as his Dutch readers.