Netherlands: Socialist Party now biggest group on the left

Speaking to party activists after the left-wing Socialist Party (SP) once again recorded a positive result in the March 18 provincial elections, party leader Emile Roemer said: “This is an historic evening. We have become the biggest left party in the Netherlands.

“The SP is a powerful factor in the Senate. An ideal starting point for the SP to be elected to government at the next general election.”

Both governing parties, the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Labour Party (PvdA), suffered strong losses. Roemer said it was VVD Prime Minister Mark Rutte “who made these elections into a referendum on his government. And the result is clear.

“The Netherlands is done with the policy of austerity. The government should not be sailing a different course, or any course at all, it should be passing the rudder on.”

For the third election in a row the SP has made nationwide gains in elections. After gains in local elections and in last year's European Parliament elections, the party recorded clear progress in provincial assembly elections.

With the exception of two provinces, seats were gained in every region. The number of SP regional councillors has risen to 70, up 14 from last time. As national Senate seats are indirectly elected by provincial assemblies, it is likely this will translate into nine or 10 Senate seats out of 75.

The SP outpolled the two left-of-centre parties, the PvdA and the Green Left. The SP emerged as the biggest party in more than 30 towns and cities. It also topped the poll in the Groningen province, where it will take the lead in forming a new administration.

In the Senate, the coalition VVD-PvdA government will soon no longer have a majority. This will make it more difficult for the government to pilot legislation through the upper house.

SP national secretary Hans van Heijningen said: “Our campaign slogan 'Reken af!' [“Check out!”] hit home. Just one third of poll respondents expressed the view that the government should continue in office, with a third saying they should 'check out' …

“The challenge for us is to be convincing in our leading position in the opposition and to ally ourselves as a party with people who are starting to mobilise.

“We need to learn from Groningen and, inside and outside of the representative bodies, galvanise the struggle against this demolition government.”

[Abridged from International.sp.nl.]

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