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The Socialist Party (SP, Dutch: Socialistische Partij) is a Dutch socialist political party. After the 2006 election, the Socialist Party became one of the major parties of the Netherlands with 25 seats of 150, an increase of 16 seats. The party is in opposition against the fourth Balkenende cabinet.

Party History

Foundation until 1994

The Socialist Party was founded in October 1971 as a Maoist party named the Communist Party of the Netherlands/Marxist-Leninist (Dutch: Kommunistiese Partij Nederland/Marxisties-Leninisties, KPN/ML). This KPN/ML was formed following a split from the Communist Unity Movement of the Netherlands (Dutch: Kommunistische Eenheidsbeweging Nederland KEN(ml)). The issue that provoked the split from KEN(ml) was an intense debate on the role of intellectuals in the class struggle. The founders of KPN/ML, led by Daan Monjé, belonged to the 'Proletarian' wing of the KEN(ml), who did not want an organisation dominated by students and intellectuals. In 1972 KPN/ML changed its name to Socialistiese Partij (Socialist Party). In its early years, the Maoist SP had close links with the Communist Party of China.

The SP started to build a network of local parties, with strong local roots. The SP had its own General Practitioners' offices, provided advice to citizens and set up local action groups. This developed within front organisations, for instance separate trade unions, environmental organizations and tenant associations. This work resulted in a strong representation in several municipal legislatures (so-called Gemeenteraden ), notably in Ossmarker. Also in provincial legislatures (so-called Provinciale Staten ), the SP gained a foothhold, especially in the province of Noord-Brabantmarker.

The SP's tenency to practise politics close to "the people", especially to the working class, led to controversial publications. The booklet "Gastarbeid en Kapitaal" (Migrant labour and Capital), which was published in the 1980s, denounced the migration of foreign workers into the Netherlands. It was portrayed as a ploy of the capitalists to reduce the class consciousness of the proletariat. There was only one solution to prevent the factionalisation of the Dutch proletariat, namely that foreign workers were to adapt to Dutch society or had to be moved back to their own country. This provoked some local councillors to call the SP the Centrumpartij of the left, the Centrumpartij being the radical right-wing party of the time (the 1980s).

The experience of working in legislatures however also had a moderating effect on the SP. Since 1977 it attempted to enter the House of Representatives. The party failed in 1977, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1989. In 1991, the party officially abandoned Marxism-Leninism, although this practice had ceased many years earlier.

After 1994

In 1994 the party's first members of parliament, Remi Poppe and Jan Marijnissen were elected. Its slogan was 'Vote Against' (Dutch: Stem tegen). In the 1990s, the major leftist party, the Labour Party (PvdA), moved to the centre, thus making the SP and the green GroenLinks viable alternatives for some left-wing voters. In 1998 the party was rewarded for its opposition to the purple government and it more than doubled its seats to five. In 1999 Erik Meijer was elected into the European Parliamentmarker for the SP.

In 2002 the SP was the only party on the left that gained seats. Now its slogan was 'Vote in Favor' (Dutch: Stem Voor). It nearly doubled to nine seats. This result was kept in the 2003 elections. Leading up to the 2003 elections, the SP was predicted to win as many as 24 (16%) seats in the polls. These gains failed to materialise however, as many potential SP voters chose to cast strategic votes for the Labour Party (PvdA), who stood a good chance of winning the elections. In the 2004 European elections its one seat was doubled to two.

In the 2005 referendum on the European Constitution the SP was the only left-wing party in parliament to oppose it. Support for the party grew in opinion polls but fell slightly after the referendum.

The municipal elections of 2006 were a success for the SP, more than doubling its total number of seats. This can in part be explained by the party standing in many more municipalities, but it can also be seen as a reaction to the so-called 'right-wing winter' in national politics, as the welfare-reforms of the right-wing Second Balkenende cabinet were called by its left-wing opponents. In a reaction to these results, Marijnissen declared on election night that the "SP has grown up".

After the untimely end of Balkenende II and the minority government of Balkenende III, the SP gained 16 seats in the parliament after the 2006 elections, nearly tripling its size. With 25 seats, the SP became the third party of the Netherlands. In the 2006-2007 cabinet formation the SP was unable to work out its programmatic differences with the Christian Democratic Appeal, the largest party and remained in opposition against the social-Christian fourth cabinet Balkenende.

In the provincial elections of 2007 the SP gained 54 provincial legislatures more than in the provincial elections of 2003 and made it to a total of 83 provincial legislatures. As a result of the provincial elections the SP has increased its representatives in the Senate (upper house) to 11 from the 4 it had previously.

SP'ers demonstrating in Brussels on 19 March 2005


The party was founded as the Communist Party of the Netherlands/Marxist-Leninist (Dutch: Kommunistiese Partij Nederland/Marxisties-Leninisties, KPN/ML) in 1971. In 1972 it adopted the name Socialistiese Partij, which was spelled in an unofficial spelling, with -iese instead of -ische. In 1993 the party changed its name to the accurately spelled Socialistische Partij.

Ideology and issues

The party has a democratic socialist ideology. In its manifesto of principals it calls for a society where human dignity, equality and solidarity are most important. Its core issues are employment, social welfare and investing in education, public safety and health care. The party opposes privatisation of public services and is critical of globalization.



Leader of the parliamentary party in the House of Representatives
1994-2008 Jan Marijnissen
2008-now Agnes Kant

2006: Jan Marijnissen
2003: Jan Marijnissen
2002: Jan Marijnissen
1998: Jan Marijnissen
1994: Jan Marijnissen
1989: Jan Marijnissen

Members of the House of Representatives

Development of the number of seats in the House of Representatives, of the 150 available:
1994 - 2
1998 - 5
2002 - 9
2003 - 9
2004 - 8 (Ali Lazrak left)
2006 - 25

After the 2006 elections the party has twenty five representatives in the House of Representativesmarker:
  1. Jan Marijnissen, chairperson of the parliamentary party (fractievoorzitter) until 2008 and the party organisation, MP since 1994.
  2. Agnes Kant, MP since 1998.
  3. Harry van Bommel, MP since 1998
  4. Jan de Wit, MP since 1998, before that member of Senate.
  5. Krista van Velzen, MP since 2002.
  6. Ewout Irrgang, MP since 6 October 2005, succesor of Piet de Ruiter.
  7. Ronald van Raak, MP since 2006, before that member of Senate.
  8. Emile Roemer, MP since 2006.
  9. Renske Leijten, same.
  10. Paul Ulenbelt, same.
  11. Ron Abel, same.
  12. Sharon Gesthuizen, same.
  13. Jasper van Dijk, same.
  14. Sadet Karabulut, same.
  15. Nathalie de Rooij, same.
  16. Hans van Leeuwen, same.
  17. Fons Luijben, same.
  18. Paulus Jansen, same.
  19. Remi Poppe, MP 1994-2002 and since 2006.
  20. Arda Gerkens, MP since 2002.
  21. Henk van Gerven, MP since 2006
  22. Marianne Langkamp, the same.
  23. Paul Lempens, the same.
  24. Hugo Polderman, the same
  25. Farshad Bashir, MP since 15 January 2008
  26. Rosita van Gijlswijk, MP since 2006, left 15 January 2008

Members of the Senate

Development of the number of seats in the Senate, of the 75 available:
1999 - 1
2003 - 4
2007 - 11 (first 12*)

(* Düzgün Yilderim was expelled because of reluctance to distance himself from the seat after being asked to do so by the party leaders. According to the Dutch constitution he had the right to claim his seat because he was elected with preferential votes. However, the agreement within the party was to stick to the sequence of the election list, ignoring preferential votes. Yilderim agreed to this list, but changed his mind later. When he was expelled from the party he kept his seat, which is his democratic right within the Dutch constitution.)

After the 2007 elections the party has 11 representatives in the Senate:
  1. Tiny Kox, chairperson of the parliamentary party
  2. Tineke Slagter-Roukema
  3. Arthur Elzinga
  4. Paul Peters
  5. Geert Reuten
  6. Arjan Vliegenthart
  7. Sineke ten Horn
  8. Anja Meulenbelt
  9. Nanneke Quik-Schuijt
  10. Kees Slager
  11. Eric Smaling

Members of the European Parliament

In the 1999 European Parliament elections, the SP got one seat.

After the 2004 European Parliament elections the party has two representatives in the European Parliamentmarker:
  1. Erik Meijer
  2. Kartika Liotard

They are part of the European Parliament faction European United Left - Nordic Green Left.

Local and provincial government

The SP provides no Queen's Commissioners or mayors. Dutch mayors and Queen's Commissioners are appointed by the Minister of the Interior; the SP opposes this procedure, and wants mayors to be elected by the municipality council. Nor is the SP part of any provincial executive, Gedeputeerde Staten. The SP is part of several municipal executives, Colleges van Burgemeester en Wethouders notably in Ossmarker and Nijmegenmarker.



The SP has over 50,000 members and has grown considerably since it entered parliament in 1994 making it the third largest party in terms of its number of members.

Organizational structure

The highest body within the SP is the party council, formed by the chairs of all local branches and the party board. It convenes at least four times a year. The party board is elected by the party congress, which is formed by delegates from the municipal branches. The congress decides on the order of the candidates for national and European elections and it has a final say over the party program.

The official chair of the party board is Jan Marijnissen, who also is chair of the parliamentary party. In the Netherlands it is traditional to separate these two offices. The real leader of the party's organisation is the general secretary. The party board further consists of regionally and nationally elected members and the head of the party's youth wing and the editor of the party's magazine.

The SP is sometimes criticised for its allegedly hierarchical organisation. Critics claim not many things are decided within the national party, or even its local branches, without the consent of its leader Jan Marijnissen.

The SP remains a very active force in extra-parliamentary protest. Many of its members are active in local campaigning groups, often independent groups dominated by the SP, or in the SP neighbourhood centres, where the party provides help for the working classes.

At one point, two Trotskyist entryist groups operated within the SP, Offensief and International Socialists. The I.S however was expelled on the grounds of double membership. The similar, but very small group Offensief was not considered a factor of power but its members were banned from the SP in february 2009, on the grounds of being "a party within a party". Members of the party Socialist Alternative Politics still operate within the SP.

Linked organisations

The youthwing is called ROOD, jong in de SP (English: RED, Youth within the SP; the word rood is officially written in capitals, but is not an acronym).The SP publishes the magazine the Tribune monthly (which was also the name of a historical CPN newspaper).

International organisations

The SP is a member of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament. The party is not affiliated with the Party of the European Left.

Relationships to other parties

The Socialist Party has always been in opposition. On many issues, the SP is the most left-wing party in parliament. Between 1994 and 2002 the PvdA had a conscious strategy to isolate the party, always voting against the latter's proposals. The party however did co-operate well with GroenLinks. After the PvdA's disastrous election result in 2002, the Labour Party, now back in opposition, did co-operate with the SP, against some of the policies of the right-wing Balkenende government, and their relationship improved significantly. New tensions arose however after the elections of 2006, when the SP approached the PvdA in electoral support, and the PvdA joined the government, whereas the SP did not.


  1. Parlement & politiek - Mr. J.M.A.M. de Wit. Downloaded 27 November 2006.
  2. Kagie R. De Socialisten, Achter de Schermen van de SP Mets & Schilt (2004) Amsterdam

External links

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