Party profile — OBP

The Dutch nine-to-twelve-party system is sometimes hard to understand for foreigners; especially when the small parties come into play. Therefore, just like in 2010, I’m running a mini-series that treats all eleven parties that stand a decent chance of winning seats. We’ll go from smallest to largest.

Today we have to jump back to the bottom of the list because a new party has emerged as a vehicle for dissident PVV MP Brinkman. It’s uncertain whether the party will make it into parliament, but anything is possible right now.

History and party profile

Full name
Onafhankelijke Burgerpartij
Independent Citizens’ Party
Party leader
Hero Brinkman, since 2012
In parliament since
In 2006 Brinkman was elected for the PVV. In 2012 he split off.
Protest party
Uncertain; either centre or right
Current seats
Website (commendable speed in setting up a website, by the way)

The OBP is essentially the same as the old TON that was so easily discarded in the 2010 elections: a vehicle for a well-known dissident from a right-wing party. The OBP is Hero Brinkman, much as the TON was Rita Verdonk and the PVV is Geert Wilders. Of course, Wilders is very clever and canny. Verdonk wasn’t. Whether Brinkman is remains to be seen, but the odds are against him.

Hero Brinkman was one of the original nine PVV MPs elected in 2006. Just before the 2010 elections he called for more internal democracy within the PVV. Wilders reacted quite mildly — he could not afford internal arguments just before the elections. Brinkman returned to parliament, but nothing came of his ideas about democratic procedures or creating a youth group (which are pretty much part and parcel of regular Dutch parties).

Meanwhile Brinkman made the news by being rude to the government of the Netherlands Antilles, and by allegedly hitting a barman in the face. He later admitted to having an alcohol problem.

Brinkman’s critique of the PVV’s authoritarian structure, with sole member Geert Wilders deciding everything, was the reason he split off in March. He also objected against Wilders’s penchant for attacking Muslims, and more recently Eastern Europeans. That may sound noble, but it could also mean Brinkman hasn’t been paying attention to his own political party in the last six years.

Whatever. Let’s say it’s just power play on the extreme right, as has happened so often in the past. It’s the first time it happens to the PVV, though — Wilders has held out for six years, which is a record.

Does the OBF differ from the PVV at all? One would expect a democratic structure and less stuff about Muslims, but the party is still too new to truly judge.

In any case, Brinkman is creating a party list (in great haste, so nobody will be vetted) and has already had some offers of help, though very little money. But he remains

Electoral position

Will Brinkman retain his seat? In one poll (Politieke Barometer 27 April) he did, but in the next one he disappeared.

Brinkman’s best chance is chaos in the PVV. If, say, there were more split-offs, and Wilders would lose some control, Brinkman might capture a few extreme-right voters, but he’s not Wilders, and everybody knows it.

Right now the question is whether 65,000 Dutch will vote for him in the absence of trouble in the PVV. I think the answer is No.

Potential coalitions

Even if the OBP enters parliament it won’t end up in the coalition. Nobody’s interested in a small extreme party as they are in large extreme parties. Besides, there will be no right-wing coalition, and any other coalition will reject the OBP as they do the PVV. Brinkman’s doomed to a spell in the opposition.

<— Week overview | Party leaders, moves to the flanks, and Europe —>

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.

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