The Socialist Party (Dutch: Socialistische Partij, SP) is a democratic socialist political party in the Netherlands. After the 2006 general 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 was in opposition against the fourth Balkenende cabinet. In the 2010 election the party obtained 15 seats, and is currently in opposition to the Rutte 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 (KPN/ML). This KPN/ML was formed following a split from the Communist Unity Movement of the Netherlands (Marxist-Leninist). 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, with Daan Monjé in a prominent role, 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). Even in its early years, while adhering to maoist principles such as organizing the masses, the SP was very critical of the Communist Party of China like in condemning the support for Unita in Angola (The brochure:"Antwoord aan de dikhuiden van de KEN").

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 Oss. Also in provincial legislatures (so-called States-Provincial), the SP gained a foothhold, especially in the province of North Brabant.

Since 1977 SP attempted to enter the House of Representatives. The party failed in 1977, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1989. In 1991, the party officially scrapped the term Marxism–Leninism, because the party had evolved to the point that the term was no longer considered appropriate.

After 1994

In 1994 general election 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 party of the Dutch left, the Labour Party (PvdA), moved to the centre, thus making the SP and GreenLeft viable alternatives for some left-wing voters. In the 1998 general election, the party was rewarded for its opposition to the Purple government of the first Kok cabinet, and more than doubled its seats to five. In the 1999 European elections, Erik Meijer was elected into the European Parliament for the SP.

In 2002 general election 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 general election. 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, 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 centre-left and 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 the second Balkenende cabinet and the minority government of the third Balkenende cabinet, the SP gained 16 seats in the parliament after the 2006 general election, nearly tripling its parliamentary representation. With 25 seats, the SP became the third largest party of the Dutch parliament. In the 2006-2007 cabinet formation the SP was unable to work out its policy differences with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the largest party and SP remained in opposition against the fourth Balkenende cabinet, which comprised the CDA, PvdA and ChristianUnion parties.

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

In the 2010 general election, SP fared worse than in the previous election, gaining only 15 seats, a loss of 10, and only 9.9% of the overall vote.


SP'ers demonstrating in Brussels on 19 March 2005


The party was founded as the Communist Party of the Netherlands/Marxist-Leninist (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.[1] In its manifesto of principles it calls for a society where human dignity, equality and solidarity are most important. Its core issues are employment, social welfare and investing in public 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
2008-2010 Agnes Kant
2010- Emile Roemer


2010: Emile Roemer
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
2010 - 15

After the 2006 elections the party has twenty five representatives in the House of Representatives:

  1. Jan Marijnissen, chairperson of the parliamentary party (fractievoorzitter) until 2008 and the party organisation, MP since 1994.
  2. Agnes Kant, MP since 1998, chairperson of the parliamentary party from 2008 till early 2010
  3. Harry van Bommel, MP since 1998
  4. Jan de Wit, MP since 1998, before that member of Senate.[3]
  5. Krista van Velzen, MP since 2002.
  6. Ewout Irrgang, MP since 6 October 2005, successor of Piet de Ruiter.
  7. Ronald van Raak, MP since 2006, before that member of Senate.
  8. Emile Roemer, MP since 2006, chairperson of the parliamentary party since 5 March 2010.
  9. Renske Leijten, MP since 2006,
  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 (previous 12[4])

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 acquired one seat.

After the 2004 European Parliament elections the party had two representatives in the European Parliament:

  1. Erik Meijer
  2. Kartika Liotard

After the 2009 European Parliament elections the party has two representatives in the European Parliament:

  1. Cornelis de Jong
  2. Kartika Liotard

SP is a member of the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European Parliament. The party is not affiliated with the Party of the European 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 Oss and Nijmegen.


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.[citation needed]

Organisational 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.[5]

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.[citation needed]

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[6] (which was also the name of a historical Communist Party of the Netherlands newspaper).

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 Labour Party (PvdA) had a conscious strategy to isolate the party, always voting against the latter's proposals. The party however did co-operate well with GreenLeft. 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. 1.0 1.1 Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  2. Score 1.6/10 in 2003 Chapel Hill expert survey, see Hooghe et al. (2003) Chapel Hill Survey
  3. Parlement & politiek - Mr. J.M.A.M. de Wit. Downloaded 27 November 2006.
  4. 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.
  5. Kagie R. De Socialisten, Achter de Schermen van de SP Mets & Schilt (2004) Amsterdam
  6. Tribune's website (in dutch)

External links

Further reading

SP publications in English

  • Jan Marijnissen & Karel Glastra van Loon, "The Last War of the 20th Century: Discussions on the new world order" (On the threshold of the new millennium, Jan Marijnissen en Karel Glastra van Loon spoke with prominent experts in the area of peace and security, both within the Netherlands and abroad.)
  • Jan Marijnissen , "Enough!: a socialist bites back" (SP-chairman Jan Marijnissen summarises and internationalises his opposition against the ideological mainstream in today's politics throughout the world. Neoliberalism, argues Marijnissen, causes the return of 19th century social and democratic circumstances. Who does not agree, has the duty to stand up and say: enough!)
  • Harry van Bommel & Niels de Heij, "A Better Europe Starts Now" (European cooperation has already brought us many benefits, for example in the areas of human rights and of our prosperity. That does not mean that it is always good or that cooperation in all areas offers added value. The outcome of the referendum on the European Constitution demonstrated that a clear majority holds the European Union as it is now in little esteem, and that there was a need for a broad social discussion over Europe and the role of the Netherlands within it. This paper is intended to contribute to such a debate by making proposals for a more democratic, slimmed down, balanced and affordable EU, as well as a fruitful European agricultural policy.)
  • Anja Meulenbelt & Harry van Bommel, "The promised land, the stolen land". (March 2007) (A summary of the study by Anja Meulenbelt and Harry van Bommel).
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