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Amsterdam local election - what can a liberal vote for?

When you hit town on a Saturday night and in every pub there are people from political parties that are trying to get rid of their flyers, you know that Election Day is looming. So is currently in Amsterdam. Next Wednesday there are the next local election – about time to look where a liberal vote can go to.

b2ap3_thumbnail_potlood1.jpgThis time one can choose out of 27 parties. Checking all programs might be too hard – especially as they are often not written having the reader in mind. So let’s make a first shifting based on a high over look at the parties and the current situation in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is traditionally a left leaning town in voting behaviour. That influences the local parties. The local branch is often left from the national parent – and often also more progressive (using the four dimensions commonly used in the Netherlands: left – right on social issues and progressive – conservative on ethical issues). SP (Socialist Party) and PvdA (Social-Democrats) are usually hardly an option for a liberal vote. With keeping in mind that the local branches in Amsterdam are more to the left than their national parent also GroenLinks might be a no go. Nationally the liberal faction of this party prevails at some times – but not currently. And when accounting for the left shift in Amsterdam this is even more true for the Amsterdam faction. GroenLinks Amsterdam has a strong tendency to decide based on “we know what is best for you” – not a liberal choice at all.


Then we have the two parties that have a more liberal background and are usually seen as the liberal parties in the Netherlands: D66, the centre-left liberals, and VVD, the centre-right liberals.

b2ap3_thumbnail_d66.jpgD66 has nationally the disadvantage of being a mix of a one-issue party (it used to be reform of the political structures and currently it's education) and a party that is good in having the mouth full but bad in getting things done (or what the Dutch call: a "roeptoeter"). The slogan for Amsterdam in the current elections is: Amsterdam forward – now! Well – forward, ok, but where does this lead to? Any vision? Keeping again the left shift for Amsterdam in mind, D66 is a tricky choice for Amsterdam. But at least it is at the core a liberal party, so there are worse choices.

b2ap3_thumbnail_VVD-Logo_1.pngWhat about the VVD? Nationally the liberal faction of the party is currently hard to hear, unfortunately. To counter the populist voice of the new parties on the right the VVD chose not to fight those voices but to imitate them. The national voice of the party is currently more conservative and populist and less liberal. The good thing is that the local VVD in Amsterdam is usually more left and progressive than on national level.

Unfortunately this trend has weakened lately. It’s not as bad as in Rotterdam where the local branch managed to place itself even more to the right than the national party (with slogans as: In Rotterdam we speak Dutch). But still. On a lot of the liberal issues up in the campaign the local VVD goes for the conservative option – with a strong focus on security, more surveillance, punishment and CCTV’s. Hello surveillance state – goodbye privacy (or what is left of it). Well – on the other hand it is at least a party with a strong liberal tradition and track record. So voting VVD might be better than voting D66 but it also means: hoping that most anti-liberal election slogans will disappear after the elections.


Remainb2ap3_thumbnail_PiratenpartijAmsterdam.jpgs to have a look at the smaller parties. There are some more or less liberal parties amongst those – as the Piratenpartij (Pirate Party, a left leaning liberal party with b2ap3_thumbnail_02e75bd.pngfocus on privacy), the Libertarian party (they are what the name says: libertarian, meaning more extreme views onto governement and freedom), Red Amsterdam (Save Amsterdam, a local party with mixed views on social issues). So some are more centre-left, b2ap3_thumbnail_redams.jpgothers more centre-right. Those parties are more liberal in their programme than VVD and D66 – but the downside is that they have no track record and besides that a vote on them might be lost if they don’t make it into the council.


So – bad news for the liberal voters: you have the choice between a rock and a hard place. At least you can narrow it down to 2 questions:

  • Is it important that you know for sure that the party you vote for will make it into the council? If this is not the case you can go for one of the 3 small parties: Pirate Party, Libertarian Party and Save Amsterdam.
  • If it is important you have to choose between a party with a proven liberal attitude but a more conservative than liberal programme in the current election and a party with a liberal core that is better in slogans than in getting things done.

Or if you as lucky as I am and know some candidates in person you can vote for the person you know as a liberal by hart and deeds (and not only by words).

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