General Election: SP wins massive support throughout country

23 November 2006

General Election: SP wins massive support throughout country

The parliamentary elections held yesterday in the Netherlands led to a veritable political earthquake. The biggest winner was the SP, which grew from nine to twenty-five seats in Parliament's 150-strong lower house, the country's main legislative body. The two parties of the outgoing governing right-wing coalition, the Christian Democratic CDA and the free market liberals of the VVD, lost between them a total of nine seats and thus the majority needed to continue in power. There is, however, no left majority either, for while the SP gained a total of sixteen seats, the social democratic PvdA (Labour Party) dropped from forty-two to thirty-three, with the Green Left falling from eight to seven. A coalition of centre-right CDA and centre-left PvdA also lacks a majority and would not be possible without the cooperation of other parties. The party founded by the right-wing populist leader Pim Fortuyn, gunned down during the general election campaign of 2002, lost all of its MPs and will no longer be represented in the lower house.

Difficult coalition negotiations discussions will ensue. The extreme right, anti-Islamic party founded by former VVD member Geert Wilders, which in its first ever parliamentary election won nine seats, may have a role to play in these, as may the Christian Union, which doubled its tally of seats from three to six.

SP leader Jan Marijnissen does not rule out a 'grand coalition' of his party with PvdA and CDA, although the SP is fiercely opposed to the direction which the Christian Democrats have taken in recent years. Marijnissen suggests that it would be a good idea if CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende were “to take the time over the next week or so to consider what the election result might mean." For the SP the message is clear: the voters have pronounced themselves in favour of a more human, more socially-minded Netherlands.

The SP conducted its biggest ever election campaign. Central themes included better education in smaller classes, better health care closer to the people, more affordable housing, combating poverty, putting a stop to privatisation and liberalisation, higher standards of animal welfare, and protection of nature and the environment in general. In addition, the party rejects the idea of a European superstate and a foreign policy which makes the Netherlands a lapdog for the US.

The polls have for weeks been predicting enormous gains for the SP. Amongst trade unionists, 35% stated their intention to vote SP, as did a high proportion of workers in the health care sector. In a major poll of older schoolchildren, many of whom will be able to vote next time, the SP came second only to the PvdA, while its work amongst and on behalf of young people was also recognised in a survey conducted by a radio station that showed that an astonishing 60% of pop and rock musicians intended to vote Socialist.

The party celebrated its victory in the Melkweg in Amsterdam, attracting huge attention from the national and international press. (See Exit polls show enormous gains for SP and SP leader Jan Marijnissen: 'The socialists have overtaken the liberals!')

The SP became the biggest party in six local authority areas, including the major city of Nijmegen, as well as Heerlen, Doesburg and Jan Marijnissen's home town of Oss, where the party forms part of ruling coalitions, as well as Landgraaf and Brunssum."

In a number of other towns and districts where the SP is in power locally, the party recorded a high tally of votes, growing to become the second biggest party in Eindhoven, Groningen, Zaanstad, Haarlem, Schiedam, Valkenburg aan de Geul, Boxtel, Boxmeer, Pekela, Reiderland en Menterwolde. These were, moreover, not the only districts where the SP ran in second. This feat was also achieved in around thirty other places, including a number of towns in the provinces of Groningen and South Limburg. It came second overall in the provinces of Groningen and Limburg, as well as in its traditional stronghold of North Brabant.

Not only did the SP record a 23.8 percent level of support in the major industrial centre of Eindhoven, the party came second in the country's two biggest cities, scoring 18.4% in Amsterdam and 17.6% in Rotterdam. These two cities alone provided the SP with more than 120,000 votes.

The SP website was also a record-buster. On the day of the election itself, 22nd November, www.sp.nl was visited 125,039 times. This was up from just 30,516 on the day of the last general election, which took place on 22nd January 2003. The highest previous total was recorded on 31st May, 2005, the day before the referendum on the European Constitution, when 52,978 people found their way to the SP site.

Final results of the parliamentary elections

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