Global Independent Analytics
Lionel Baland
Lionel Baland

Location: Belgium

Specialization: Euroscepticism, Patriotic parties of Europe

The Long Journey of Dutch Nationalism in the Latter Half of the 20th Century

In 2002 a new phenomenon appeared in Dutch politics: Pim Fortuyn...

...But before  it caused the total ideological breakdown, unique in the history of nationalist conceptions,  different traditional nationalist parties played a role in the politics of the Netherlands: Boerenpartij, Centrumpartij, and Centrum Democraten.

Boerenpartij

The Boerenpartij (Farmers’ party) was born at the end of the 1950s. One of its founders was Hendrik Koekoek (1912-1987). The beginning of the party was not easy. The Boerenpartij was orientated against the state bureaucracy, and in opposition to fiscal pressure and immigration. In the 1958 municipal elections, it got only seats in two municipalities. At the 1959 national elections, it reached 0.66 %. At the 1962 provincial elections, the Boerenpartij took one seat in the provincial assembly of Gelderland. At the national 1963 elections, playing a role in the revolt of the farmers, it got 3 seats: the party attracted the votes of small farmers who were against the corporatist compulsory measures of the Agricultural confederation.

The Boerenpartij got votes from the farmers, the craftsmen and lowly qualified workers of the cities. But, in the middle of the 1960s, it started attracting the middle classes and the self-employed who didn’t like the way society was evolving and found themselves out of line with the politicians. In the 1966 provincial elections, the Boerenpartij got 44 seats and 6.73 %. In the municipal elections it took seats in different places. In 1967, the Boerenpartij got 7 MPs with 4.77 % of the vote. But the party had some internal troubles, became less popular and fell to one MP seat in the 1971 national elections. In the 1972 national elections, the Boerenpartij got 3 seats.

In 1974, Hendrik Koekoek and a fellow running jointly got much success in the charts with their song about the 1973 oil crisis: “Den Uyl is in den olie” (“Joop den Uyl” is the labour First minister and “olie” is oil). In the 1977 national elections, the party got 1 MP. In the 1981 national elections, the party took the name Rechtse Volkspartij (RVP) (Rightwing People's Party) and didn’t win any seats.

Centrumpartij

The Centrumpartij (Centre Party) was founded in 1980 by Henry Brookman, professor of history and natural sciences at the Free University of Amsterdam. It was not left or right but active around two political axes : against the immigration and for the environmental protection. At the beginning of 1981, Henry Brookman got out of the party but stayed councillor at the daily management of the party until 1985. Hans Janmaat became the leader of the Centrumpartij. At the 1981 national elections, the party didn’t get any seats. After this it used the slogan: “neither left, nor right” and “The Netherlands are full” searching to appear as a non-extremist movement defending Dutch identity and sovereignty.

The party was against the loss of jobs due to the immigrants who agreed to work for low wages and against positive discrimination in favour of immigrants and against locals. At the national 1982 elections, the Centrumpartij got 0.8 % and one MP: Hans Janmaat. He was the first MP to win who represented an anti-immigration party in Europe. At the municipal 1983 elections, the Centrumpartij received 9.16 % in Almere and two seats in the municipal council of the city. Following some troubles in the party, Hans Janmaat was expelled from the Centrumpartij, but he kept his seat and founded the Centrum Democraten (Centre Democrats). A lot of the members of the Centrumpartij followed him. At the municipal 1986 elections, the Centrumpartij got one seat in five municipal councils. The people of the party who were working in the public sector faced repression.

At a meeting in a hotel in 1986 with Hans Janmaat with the goal of reconciliation between Hans Janmaat and the Centrumpartij, the far left attacked the hotel and put it on fire. The secretary of Hans Janmaat had to jump out of a window and had to be amputated of a leg. There was no agreement finally and the two parties went on their separate paths on the 1986 elections and didn’t get any MPs.

Centrum Democraten

Between 1986 and 1989, the Centrum Democraten of Hans Janmaat tried to appear as a parliamentarian party working mainly in the old parts of the big cities where there was unemployment and poverty and a popular rejection of immigrants from Morocco and Turkey. At the 1989 national elections, the party won one MP seat and Hans Janmaat went back to the Parliament. At the 1990 municipal elections, the party got 11 seats of municipal councilors. In some parts of Amsterdam it got 25%.

The parties of the system decided to create a Cordon sanitaire around the Centrum Democraten. At the 1994 municipal elections, the Centrum Democraten took 78 seats and 3 MPs at the national elections in the same year. The Dutch judicial system started prosecuting Hans Janmaat and the party for their political opinions and they were finally sentenced. At the 1998 national elections, the Centrum Democraten got 0.6 % and no MPs. In 2002, the party didn’t take part at the national elections. The party was dissolved and its leader Hans Janmaat died.  In the same year one man knew a fast political eruption: Pim Fortuyn.

Pim Fortuyn

If it can be considered that until 2002 the nationalist parties had in the Netherlands a normal way as in other countries in Western Europe, Pim Fortuyn, who wrote a lot of books, can be seen as the thinker of a new way of nationalism in a total breakdown with the classical line. With him came the idea that Islam has to be seen as totalitarianism and as a big threat for Dutch society, its freedom and its liberty of morals and that the nationalists are fighting against the islamisation of society and are the defenders of these freedoms.

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