SP Executive nominates list for European elections

18 January 2009

SP Executive nominates list for European elections

Having interviewed numerous applicants, the Executive Committee of the SP is ready to present its recommended list for the European Parliamentary elections on 4th June to the party's membership for consideration. Their choice to lead the list is 53-year-old Dennis de Jong from Rotterdam, a member of the Rotterdam SP branch executive and an activist on such international affairs as Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. The list will now be put to the Party Council on 21st February. Made up of the Chairs of each SP branch and the members of the much smaller Executive Committee, the Council is the party's highest governing body after the national conference. The Council will also debate, and amend or simply approve, the SP European election manifesto. “The SP will be aiming in these elections to double our present tally of two seats,” says General Secretary Hans van Heijningen. “The list is nicely balanced between young people and those with more experience and will ensure that we will make our voice heard in Brussels for socially progressive policies.” Current SP European Parliamentary Group leader Erik Meijer is to stand down at the age of 64 after ten years representing the party in Brussels and Strasbourg. “The SP is grateful to Erik for his pioneering work in the European Parliament, where he was our first member. He has laid a basis on which a renewed and dynamic team can build,” said Van Heijningen.

Between now and 21st February SP branches will be debating the draft manifesto - “A better Europe starts in the Netherlands” - and the proposed list.

The list will be headed by Dennis de Jong who is a member of the executive of the Rotterdam branch and an activist in international solidarity campaigns on such issues as Iraq, Afghanistan and, in the current situation, above all Gaza. Active nationally on issues deriving from the consequences of globalisation, De Jong is currently employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a special advisor on human rights and good governance. He is, in addition, a member of an international academic network on matters concerning freedom of religion and ideology. In 2000 De Jong took his doctorate in this subject area and recently founded an institute on religion and human rights.

Number two on the list is current SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard, 37. First elected in 2004, she is a member of the European Parliamentary Committees on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, on Agriculture and Rural Development, and on Citizens' Rights, Justice and Internal Affairs. In addition she is the MEP responsible for the European Parliament's relations with the European Food Safety Authority. Liotard played an important role in the fight against the neoliberal Services Directive. Prior to her election she was a member of the executive of the SP's Sittard-Geleen branch, responsible for the party's helpline and advice services in the region.

Number three is Nicole van Gemert, 33. Formerly an activist in the SP's Heuvelrug branch, Van Gemert moved to Utrecht where she was elected to the Provincial Assembly, the Netherlands' regional tier of government. She worked for five years for the party's national parliamentary team in The Hague, where she was responsible for agriculture, animal welfare, environmental issues, social relief and drug addiction. Currently employed as policy coordinator for an environmental and development NGO active on matters concerned with sustainable energy, agriculture, chemicals and water in a number of countries in eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

Number four is Niels Jongerius, 24, an activist in the SP youth organisation ROOD ('Red') and a member of the executive of the party's Groningen branch. In the past he spent two years on the Executive Committee of ROOD, where he was responsible, amongst other things, for the “Slum Landlord of the Year” election. Jongerius has organised numerous actions, educational and other activities and is also involved in the development of an SP branch in Veendam. A student of International Relations/International Organisations, he is currently completing his Bacherlors' degree.

Number five may be one more than Hans van Heiningen's target of four seats, but who expected the SP to leap from eight to twenty-five seats in one go in the national general elections of 2006? Rein van Gisteren, 55, recently moved to a small town near Brussels, where he is already a familiar face in the European Parliament, working as publicity and media officer for the SP group. Previously active as a member of the core group of the SP branch in The Hague and of the SP's internal education team, he has worked as a communications advisor and lecturer for public sector clients.

The list's top ten is made up by 28-year old Jessica van Ruitenburg, advisor on health care to the SP's national parliamentarians; Frank Futselaar, 29, formerly an assistant to the party's Euro-MPs and now a policy adviser to the Province of Overijssel; Tuur Elzinga, 29, currently a policy adviser to the trade union FNV's international affairs department, and a member of the Netherlands' Senate, as well as of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; Eric Smaling, also a member of the Senate and Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at the technical university in Enschede; and finally Bart Vermeulen, 29, a teacher of geography who is also a member of the Provincial Council of South Holland and of the SP's Executive Committee.

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