Many parties to choose from on 12 September

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No less than 50 political parties are participating in the Dutch general elections scheduled to be held on 12 September. Each with their own set of political ideals. However, voters tend to cast their ballot for a party with clout rather than a marginal party with sympathetic principles.

Political parties had until this week to register with the electoral authorities. In addition to the eleven parties currently in parliament, another 39 political movements have registered their name.

The 39 include parties with eloquent names like Wilhelmus van Nassauwe (named after the national anthem) ,Kleptocraten, Nederland Beter, Red het Noorden (Save the North), Partij Anti Onrecht (Party Anti Injustice), Club van niet kiezers (Club of non-voters), Partij Voor De Mens en alle overige aardbewoners (Party for Mankind and all other Earth dwellers), NXD (named for the children of its founder: Narqeez, Xenf-fe and Djenghiz), en DPK, the party of former Freedom Party MP Hero Brinkman.

One issue
The newcomers are mostly one-issue parties, which focus on one issue they believe is being neglected by The Hague. And sometimes they are actually successful. The Animal Rights Party has two seats in parliament and Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party also began its political existence as a one issue party.

What gaps in the electoral market have the new parties discovered?
A brief selection:

The Pirate Party wants free internet access for all, legal downloading and no infringement of the privacy of email traffic.

50Plus is, the name says it all, a senior citizens party.

MenS, the party for Man and Spirit, focuses on inspiration and positive power; in education personality is to become the decisive factor in whether a child is allowed to move up to the next grade, so no more testing.

MOED (courage) wants to raise public awareness about the causes and effects of bullying and violence.

The IQ-Partij wants the Anglo-Dutch oil concern Shell to pay 31 billion euros in ‘blood money’, the alleged ‘proceeds of robbery with murder.’

Het Sociaal Contract is opposed to corporate greed and wants a fair distribution of wealth between the generations.

Electoral threshold
It is relatively easy to win a seat in the Dutch parliament. German parties have to win at least five percent of the vote, in Sweden the threshold is even as high as 10 percent. In the Netherlands all it takes is reaching the quota, the total number of ballots cast divided by the number of seats in parliament: 150.

Wasted vote
In the previous general election the quota was just under 63,000 votes per seat, and yet few outsiders managed to win one. Even more difficult is to hang on to that seat for more than one term. Most voters don’t want to waste their ballot. When there is a reasonable change the newcomer won’t make it into parliament, most would prefer casting their vote for a party that could actually achieve something in The Hague.

In the 2010 general election, just 1.09 percent of the 9.4 million votes went to new parties. Half of those went to former immigration minister Rita Verdonk’s who left the conservative VVD to stand in the elections with her new party Trots Op Nederland (Proud of the Netherlands).

However, it is certainly not mission impossible. In 1989 the SP (Socialist Party) was a new party along with Partij 2000+, Anti Werkloosheid Partij (Anti Unemployment Party) and Bejaarden Centraal (Elderly at Centre Stage) The latter three have faded into obscurity. The SP, on the other hand, might just become the Netherlands’ biggest party in September.