How Green Left succeeded in the Dutch election

By   /   March 17, 2017  /   7 Comments

TDB recommends Voyager - Unlimited internet @home as fast as you can get

Green Left succeeded because of its strong green and left policies, as articulated by its young leader, Jesse Klaver. “What I would say to all my left-wing friends in Europe: don’t try to fake the populace,” said Klaver. “Stand for your principles. Be straight. Be pro-refugee. Be pro-Europe… We can stop populism.”

I happened to be in Amsterdam five years ago, during a Dutch election campaign. I enjoyed talking to my fellow Greens in the Green Left party, who were holding a little street rally, but they weren’t confident of a good result. They ended up with 2.3% of the vote and 4 seats.

How everything has changed. Green Left is now lauded as the big winner in this week’s Dutch election, with 9% of the vote and 14 seats, ahead of the Labour Party (previously the biggest left party) which dropped from 38 seats to nine. The other significant left party, the Socialists, dropped one seat, from 15 to 14.

Green Left succeeded because of its strong green and left policies, as articulated by its young leader, Jesse Klaver. “What I would say to all my left-wing friends in Europe: don’t try to fake the populace,” said Klaver. “Stand for your principles. Be straight. Be pro-refugee. Be pro-Europe… We can stop populism.”

Instead of adapting to the xenophobia of Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom, as other parties did, Jesse Klaver took him head on. In a live television debate he said that right-wing populism, not immigration, was undercutting Dutch traditions.

“The values the Netherlands stands for, for many, many decades, centuries actually, its freedom, its tolerance, its empathy… they are destroying it,” he said.

The public responded.  The Green Left vote mushroomed, while the Wilders party faltered, winning 20 seats, much lower than what earlier polls had predicted.

Green Left beamed to the culturally progressive section of the electorate.  “What we share is a very open and tolerant view of the world, socially and culturally, whether about abortion, euthanasia or the soft drugs policy,” said their Amsterdam leader, Groot Wassink. Green Left held the biggest rally of the election campaign, 5000 people in Amsterdam, and topped the polls in that city. The party did particularly well among young people and women.

The party also had a strong social and environmental platform, including higher taxes for the rich, abolishing bonuses for CEOs, a plastic goods tax, the closure of coal mines, and measures to reduce greenhouse gases Of relevance to New Zealand today, Green Left campaigned against raising the pension age.

The Dutch result will boost the morale of Green forces around the world, along with its lessons about how to counter racist populism, and how to front foot other controversial policies, like higher taxes on the rich and marijuana law reform.

Want to support this work? Donate today
Follow us on Twitter & Facebook


  1. Afewknowthetruth says:

    There is not such thing as ‘green policies’ within the framework of industrial societies.

    All political parties advocate the continued use of fossil fuels and the continued disruption of the geochemistry that makes life possible, and their policies range from range from brown to black.

  2. Mike in Auckland says:

    I am so through with people interpreting the Dutch general election result to their advantage. We were presented the total BS scenario by the MSM, that great danger was there coming from Wilders and his Partij voor the Vrijheid, see this link:

    All they got was thirteen percent of total votes, they would not have done all that much better with the best of prognosis. The trouble with the Dutch voters and the Parliament they have, there are so many smallish parties with different agendas, some progressive, some “green”, some christian democratic or social democratic, it is a mosaic of political representation there.

    There was NEVER a serious threat by Wilders and his nationalist romanticists, as nobody wants to work with them, so it was whipped up by the MSM and his opponents, as an evil against good kind of election challenge.

    We never got true reporting by NZ media, who made it look like a two way battle between present and prospective government leader Rutte and Wilders, but who NEVER explained the complex picture of the polls and political voter preferences. We were sold more lies and half truths by that same MSM that acts sanctimoniously about Trump and others, same about fake news.

    As long as we have such shocking media reporting, we will never get informed voters and a functioning democracy, also not here in NZ, and Keith would have done a damned better job had he told us the whole truth about all this.

    Here is the election result for Netherlands’ general election 2017, as published by Wikipedia:,_2017

    It was a shocking result for the traditional Workers’ Party of the Netherlands though, so no encouragement for the workers movement from there:

    It will be damned difficult forming a government there now, so it may take months to sort the future direction of Holland out, but they will definitely now not follow the foolish Brits to EXIT the Eu.

    • This is true, and really on the face of things, the left got completely buried in this election. The centre right blitzed it, and the centre left collapsed. While it is good to see that the more ‘true’ left parties who did well seem to have done so by drawing out non-voters and getting a strong turnout, the main churn was the Dutch middle class fleeing the centre left for the centre right. And the main attraction was Rutte promising at the last minute to get tough on Islamic hardliners and having his little celebrity feud with Erdogan.

      • Sam Sam says:

        My impression is politics moves to fast for the centre. An article will appeare and then get burried under the bachelor ect. And as it keeps turning out election after election, parties talk a good game but when time to stand for something they always stick up for super big business. Which means we hand over welfare for the rich. I’m not sure this can be halted because the centre seems fixated on the news in the morning talking points.

        So when Warren Buffet said the class war is over and they won, he is correct.

  3. Andrew says:

    You think coming 5th is a success?

    I suppose 14% is a success by NZ Green standards. 😉