For those of you new to the Dutch political scene, or those of you who wonder what all the acronyms stand for, here is a brief description of the political parties as they prepare for the elections on 22 November. Diane Lemieux writes.
It's name stands for the Christen Democratisch Appèl. In English, the party is known as the Christian Democrats. The CDA currently has 44 seats in Parliament and leads the coalition government. Jan Peter Balkenende is the party leader (and current Prime Minister, but you knew that already).
This is the Partij van de Arbeid or the Labour Party in English. It has 42 seats in Parliament and though it is the second largest party, the PvdA is not in the coalition government. The PvdA leader is Wouter Bos.
Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie. This translates as the people's party for freedom and democracy, though the VVD is usually called the Liberal party in English. Its recently-elected party leader is Mark Rutte. It is currently part of the ruling coalition and has 28 seats in Parliament.
The Socialistische Partij is, predictably, the Socialist party. It's leader for the last 20 years is Jan Marijnissen. It currently has nine seats in Parliament.
Fortuyn (formerly LPF or Lijst Pim Fortuyn)
This is the 'right wing' party which gained huge popularity under its charismatic leader, Pim Fortuyn. He was assassinated just before the May 2002 elections, but the party won 26 seats in Parliament. The party later disintegrated due to infighting and brought down the coalition government. At the January 2003 election, it won just eight seats.
The green-left party is sometimes known as the Greens. It currently has eight seats in Parliament under the charismatic leadership of Femke Halsema.
This stands for Democraten 66 because it was established in 1966. This party has been in the news quite a lot in the past year and eventually stepped out of the coalition government in a dispute with Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk. The strengthening of democratic processes is the party's main platform. It has six seats in Parliament and is led by new leader Alexander Pechtold.
The Christian Union is a primarily Christian-based party formed in 2000. It currently has 3 seats in Parliament.
Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, is another Christian party that was established in 1918. It's stated goal is to ensure that Dutch laws are in accordance with the norms and values of the Bible. This is the party which was recently in the news because it does not allow women to stand for election. It currently has two seats Parliament.
Partij van de Vrijheid
The Freedom Party is also known as the Wilders party after the man who established it after he left the VVD, Geert Wilders. Wilders' policies are extremely anti-Islam and anti-immigration.
One Netherlands. The party, led by Marco Pastors, has a similar platform to that of Wilders, but has been slightly more conciliatory and respectful of Muslim citizens in the lead up to the elections. Former LPF MP Joost Eerdmans set the party up with Pastors.
[This article first appeared on www.thehagueonline.com]
Subject: Dutch election 2006