Party for Freedom

This article is about the Party of Freedom previously known as Wilders Group. For the historic party, see Freedom Party (Netherlands).
Party for Freedom
Partij voor de Vrijheid
Chairman Geert Wilders
House Leader Geert Wilders
Senate Leader Marjolein Faber
European Leader Marcel de Graaff
Founded February 22, 2006 (2006-02-22)
Split from People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
Ideology Dutch nationalism[1]
Right-wing populism[1][2]
National liberalism[3]

Hard Euroscepticism[1][4]
Political position Right-wing[5] to Far-right[6][7]
European affiliation European Alliance for Freedom
International affiliation International Freedom Alliance
European Parliament group Europe of Nations and Freedom
Colours              Blue, white, red
(Dutch tricolour)
House of Representatives
12 / 150
9 / 75
66 / 570
European Parliament
4 / 26

The Party for Freedom (Dutch: Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) is a nationalist and right-wing populist political party in the Netherlands.

Founded in 2006 as the successor to Geert Wilders' one-man party in the House of Representatives, it won nine seats in the 2006 general election making it the fifth-largest party in parliament. In the 2010 general election it won 24 seats, making it the third-largest party. At that time the PVV agreed to support the minority government led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte without having ministers in the cabinet. However the PVV withdrew its support in April 2012 due to differences over budget cuts at the Catshuis.[8] It came third in the 2014 European Parliament election, winning four out of 26 seats.[9][10]

With program items like administrative detention and strong assimilationist stance on the integration of immigrants into Dutch society, the Party for Freedom breaks from the established centre-right parties in the Netherlands (like the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, VVD). In addition, the party is consistently Eurosceptic[11][12] and since early July 2012, according to the program it presented for the elections a few months later in September, it strongly advocates withdrawal from the EU.[13]

PVV is the name under which the foundation Stichting Groep Wilders operates. In the beginning it has Geert Wilders as its sole member,[14][15][16] making the party unique in the Dutch parliament.


Geert Wilders in 2010.

The party's history began with Geert Wilders' departure from the VVD in September 2004. Wilders could not accept the VVD's positive stance towards Turkey's possible accession to the European Union, and left the party disgruntled.

Although the VVD expected Wilders to return his parliamentary seat to the party, he refused, and continued to sit in parliament as a one-man party, Groep Wilders (Wilders Group).

In June 2005 Wilders was one of the leaders in the campaign against the European Constitution, which was rejected by Dutch voters by 62%.[17]

Bart Jan Spruyt, director of the conservative Edmund Burke Foundation, joined the party in January 2006 in order to formulate a party programme and to train its prospective representatives for the forthcoming national election (then still scheduled for 2007).[18] Spruyt left the party in the summer of 2006 after it proved unable to build broad conservative backing, and people like Joost Eerdmans and Marco Pastors proved unwilling to join.[19] After the 2006 elections, Spruyt said he was not surprised that the Party for Freedom had gained seats but maintained that, if the Party for Freedom had sought cooperation with Eerdmans and Pastors, it would have won more, even enough to bring about a CDA-VVD majority government.[20] Later, Spruyt commented that the PVV had a 'natural tendency' toward fascism.[21] He later qualified the statement, though he didn't withdraw it. Former PVV candidate Lucas Hartong called Spruyt's claims 'a cheap insinuation'.[22]

In an HP/De Tijd profile dated December 2006, the party was described as a cult, with an extremely distrustful Wilders only accepting fellow candidates completely loyal to him, and compared the PVV to the Socialist Party led by Jan Marijnissen but without reaching that degree of organisational perfection.[23]

On 10 January 2007 the PVV announced it would not field candidates at the forthcoming Provincial elections. This meant it would be unrepresented in the Senate.[24]

On 13 January 2007 NRC Handelsblad reported that a PVV intern had solicited for signatures on the website forums Dutch Disease Report and Polinco, the latter a forum described as far-right by various organisations, among them the Dutch Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet.[25] Any party participating in this election was required to collect at least 30 signatures from supporters in each of the 19 electoral districts; of the 1500 signatures the PVV received, the Dutch Antifascist group identified 34 known far-right supporters. In a response, Wilders said he regretted that far-right sympathisers had provided signatures, denied any personal responsibility for them and reasserted his dislike of far-right parties like National Front of France and Flemish Interest.[26][27][28] Noted writer and columnist Leon de Winter later declared the affair to be the result of a campaign of demonisation against Geert Wilders led by NRC Handelsblad and Volkskrant newspapers, as well as the broadcaster VARA.[29]

Former trade union leader and prominent Christian Democrat Doekle Terpstra proposed an initiative against Geert Wilders and the PVV on 30 November 2007, in the newspaper Trouw.[30] Terpstra sees Wilders as promoting intolerance, and discrimination against Muslims. He is supported in his cause by the large Dutch trade unions and refugee organisations. Politicians and the public are divided on Terpstra's initiative.[31] The newspaper De Pers reported the next day that much of Terpstra's support did not actualize.[32]

Polling by Maurice de Hond published in March 2009 indicated that the PVV was the most popular parliamentary party. The polls predicted that the party would take 21 per cent of the national vote, giving it 32 out of 150 seats in the Dutch parliament. If the polling results were to be replicated at a genuine election, Wilders would be a major power broker and could become Prime Minister.[33][34][35] However, De Hond's results were not uncontroversial, as they were based on a panel of people who have signed up for the election poll on the Internet and thus were not a random sample. According to Joop van Holsteyn, professor of election research, therefore, De Hond's polls were not representative of the population.[36] Other Dutch polls (Politieke Barometer and TNS NIPO) have shown contrasting results, with the PVV often getting less support, though still remaining very popular.

On 15 May 2009, the PVV asked Balkenende to support the foundation of a Greater Netherlands actively.[37]

By February 2010, the PVV had once more become the most popular party, according to a poll by Maurice de Hond which said it would win 27–32 parliameary seats in the next election, up two from the previous poll in early January.[38][39]

In the parliamentary elections of 9 June 2010, the PVV went from 9 to 24 seats (of 150), winning over 15% of the votes, making the PVV the third largest party in parliament.

By July 2010 the PVV again became the biggest party in the polls after the parliamentary elections, following difficulties in forming a new coalition and the PVV technically being excluded from the coalition talks because the CDA showed reluctance to cooperate with the PVV. According to the polls, the PVV would get 35 seats in a new election, which is a record high number.[40]

In August 2010, during the difficult cabinet formation following the elections, the PVV emerged as a prominent player in a proposal for a new minority government in the Netherlands. While the party would not gain a ministerial appointment, the PVV would tolerate a centre-right minority government coalition: a proposed deal that would make the party one of the most influential forces. Led by Ivo Opstelten, a former mayor of Rotterdam who was appointed mediator for the next stage of negotiations, the forming of a government of VVD and Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) with support of the PVV was negotiated; the resulting coalition agreement "included elements it pushed for, such as a burqa ban," though the ban was never put in place.[41] The VVD and CDA would have to rely on the PVV to get important legislation through. With this deal the Netherlands would follow the "Danish model", since in Denmark the anti-immigration Danish People's Party also stayed out of government but supported a minority center-right Liberal-Conservative government.[42] The very fact of the participation of the PVV in these coalition negotiations has caused fierce discussions in political circles and was considered very unlikely until recently.

After the elections, CDA parliamentary fraction president Maxime Verhagen first had stated that as a matter of principle he refused to negotiate with VVD and PVV about a centre-right government, saying that the PVV represented views that could not be reconciled with Dutch law. These objections on principle disappeared in five weeks and Verhagen turned out to be willing to negotiate over a cabinet whose fate would (also) lie in the hands of Wilders.[43]

On 20 March 2012, Hero Brinkman quit the party, citing a lack of democratic structure within the PVV among other things; qualifying this with a statement of continued support for the minority Rutte cabinet.[44] Two days later, three PVV members representing North Holland in the House followed his example.[45] In July 2012, Marcial Hernandez and Wim Kortenoeven quit the PVV, both citing what they considered to be Wilders' autocratic leadership of the party.[46]

In the parliamentary elections of 12 September 2012, the PVV went from 24 to 15 seats (of 150), winning 10% of the vote.


The Party for Freedom combines economic liberalism with a conservative programme on immigration and culture. The party seeks tax cuts (€16 billion in the 2006 election programme), de-centralisation and limiting child benefits and government subsidies. Regarding immigration and culture, the party believes that the Judeo-Christian and humanist traditions should be taken as the dominant culture in the Netherlands, and that immigrants should adapt accordingly. The party wants a halt to immigration especially from non-Western countries. It is hostile towards the EU, is against future EU enlargement to Muslim-majority countries like Turkey and opposes a dominant presence of Islam in the Netherlands.[47] The party is also opposed to dual citizenship (see below).

The Parliamentary Documentation Center (Parlementair Documentatie Centrum) of the University of Leiden characterizes the PVV as "populist, with both conservative, liberal, right-wing and left-wing positions".[48]

Political issues

Dual nationality and Khadiya Arib controversy

In February 2007, PVV parliamentarian Fritsma introduced a motion that would have prohibited any parliamentarian or executive branch politician from having dual citizenship. The PVV claimed that it is unclear where a dual national's loyalty lies. The motion would have made it difficult if not impossible for Labour MPs Ahmed Aboutaleb and Nebahat Albayrak to become members of the fourth Balkenende cabinet. The motion had to be withdrawn, however, after objection from the President of the House of Representatives, Gerdi Verbeet (Labour Party).[49] University of Maastricht law professor Twan Tak sees a risk in executive branch officials having dual citizenship, and was angered by Verbeet's insistence to close the debate,[50] however the European Convention on Human Rights as reviewed in 2010 ECtHR jurisprudence has reaffirmed that form of discrimination is a violation of a human right.[51] However, in 2007 the PVV planned to call for a vote of no confidence against junior ministers Aboutaleb and Albayrak when the new cabinet had its first meeting with the House of Representatives, claiming that their respectively Moroccan and Turkish passports put their loyalties into question.[52] In the event, the motion was only supported by the PVV itself.[53]

The issue of dual nationality, however, was not over yet. On 2 March 2007, Radio Netherlands reported that Labour Party MP Khadija Arib, who had been sworn into parliament the day before, was sitting on a commission appointed by the king of Morocco.[54] The PVV said that this commission work endangers Arib's loyalty to the Netherlands, and that she should choose between being a member of the Dutch parliament or the Moroccan commission. Geert Wilders said that Arib's remark on national television that her loyalty lay neither with the Netherlands nor Morocco was shameful.[55] The liberal VVD party similarly remarked that her "double orientation would hurt Dutch integration."[56] All other parties were appalled by the PVV and VVD's comments.[57]

Perhaps in the light of the Moldova ruling, in the first Rutte government in 2010 chaired by the VVD leader, supported by the PVV, Marlies Veldhuijzen van Zanten became the new State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport, having both Dutch and Swedish nationality.[58]


The party fielded a controversial motion in the 2007 general deliberations on the immigration budget, calling for a stop to immigration from Muslim countries. The House of Representatives at first declined to bring the motion forward for debate. Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin said it was in violation of the Dutch constitution and international law.[59] Another motion by the PVV, against police officers wearing veils, did gain a parliamentary majority.[60]

In 2012 the PVV party has launched a website named Reporting Centre on Central and East Europeans which receives complaints about Central and East European immigrants in the Netherlands. 'Do you have problems with people from Central and Eastern Europe? Have you lost your job to a Pole, a Bulgarian, a Romanian or another East European? We want to know,' the website states. It displays newspaper headlines such as 'Wouldn't it be better if you went back home?' and 'East Europeans, increasingly criminal'. The European Commission has condemned the website, and EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding declared, "We call on all citizens of the Netherlands not to join in this intolerance. Citizens should instead clearly state on the PVV's website that Europe is a place of freedom."[61][62] The website caused a lot of controversy within the European Union.[63]

Party platform

Other noteworthy policies that Wilders mentions in his party program:[64]


The name "Party for Freedom" (Partij voor de Vrijheid) was as a reference to the Freedom Party (Partij van de Vrijheid), a Dutch political party founded after the Second World War, which merged with the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) in 1948.[66] Its logo contains a Seagull in the Dutch national colors red white and blue.


Most Dutch political parties have a right to state support, which is based on both the amount of seats in the Parliament and the number of party members. PVV declares that since it is against state subsidies, it rejects its own party to be financially supported by the government and believes the tax payer should not pay for political parties they don't support.[67] To finance the activities of the PVV, the party relies on private donations. As the party does not disclose its finances, it is unknown who are financing the PVV. According to Hero Brinkman, the most prominent member to leave the party, the PVV gets most of its finances from certain foreign (American) lobby-groups.[68] According to Reuters, Daniel Pipes' Middle East Forum paid for the trials of Geert Wilders and for Wilders' security. David Horowitz paid Wilders "a good fee" for two speeches given in the US.[69][70]

In 2012, the Dutch Parliament is discussing to tighten the financial rules for political parties, forcing them to become more transparent. The PVV indicated that it would use any means available not to disclose its donors.[71]

On several instances the PVV also applied for - and received - European Union funding.[72]

Election results

House of Representatives
Election year # of total votes % of overall vote # of seats won Change Government
2006 579,490 5.9%
9 / 150
in opposition
2010 1,435,349 15.5%
24 / 150
Increase 15 VVD-CDA Minority
2012 950,263 10.1%
15 / 150
Decrease 9 in opposition

European Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Notes
2009 769,125 16.97 (#2)
4 / 25
2014 630,139 13.35 (#3)
4 / 26


Members of the House of Representatives

After the 2012 elections the party had fifteen members of the House of Representatives. In October 2013 the party expelled Louis Bontes, but he kept his seat in parliament. In March 2014 Roland van Vliet and Joram van Klaveren left the party and also kept their seats in parliament. The current twelve Members of Parliament from the PVV are:

Given that the party is still relatively young, its 2006 electoral showing was quite remarkable, giving the party more seats in the House of Representatives than well-established parties such as GreenLeft, Democrats 66 and ChristianUnion. Its surprisingly rapid rise in popularity also caught many political pundits off guard, especially as the pre-election polls were predominantly predicting a gain of no more than 6 seats.

The party has seen waves of popularity in the past. In December 2006, some polls put it ahead of the Labour Party, indicating it would win 24 to 32 seats or more.[95] Its backing for a referendum on Dutch ratification of the European Constitution was in line with the wishes of the majority of voters.[96] New prosecution attempts against its leader for hate speech and other related events may have helped propel the Party for Freedom to position in the polls in March 2009.[97]

Members of the Senate

After the 2015 elections the party has had nine members of the Senate:

Members of the European Parliament

Since the election of 2014 the party has had four members of the European Parliament:[98]


On André Krouwel's map of the Dutch political spectrum in 2012, the Party for Freedom is conservative on the socio-cultural axis, and centrist on the socio-economic axis.

The political position and the ideology of the party are hotly debated. In December 2008, the eighth study "Monitor Racism and Extremism",[99] conducted by the Anne Frank Foundation and the University of Leiden, has found that the Party for Freedom can be considered extreme right-wing, although "with ifs and buts". Economic they are viewed as a left-wing party. Peter Rodrigues and Jaap van Donselaar, who have academically guided the study, explain this classification with the Islamophobia, nationalism, and "sharp aversion to the strange", subsumed as racism, which they have observed within the party.[100][101]

In January 2010, the report Polarisatie en radicalisering in Nederland[102] (transl. "Polarisation and radicalisation in the Netherlands") by political researchers Moors, Lenke Balogh, Van Donselaar and De Graaff from the Tilburg University research group IVA[7] stated that the PVV was not an extreme right-wing party, but contained some radical right-wing elements. The study claims that the PVV holds xenophobic ideas, but not antisemitic ideas – the PVV describes its culture as Jewish-Christian humanistic.[103] "The PVV statements on Islamisation and non-Western immigrants appear to be discriminatory and the party organisation is authoritarian rather than democratic", said the researchers, who were looking into polarisation and radicalism across the Netherlands. They described the PVV as the "new radical right", a party with a national democratic ideology but without extreme right-wing roots. In particular, the report stated that the party's pro-Israel stance showed that it was not neo-Nazi. It tends however towards a national democratic ideology. Wilders called the report "scandalous"—in particular the link between defending the national interest and the radical right.

An alleged earlier version of the report, leaked to the Dutch daily newspaper de Volkskrant in November 2009, said that Wilders' party is an extreme right-wing grouping and a threat to social cohesion and democracy. The paper claimed at the time the researchers were under pressure to water down the conclusions because of their political sensitivity. The Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Guusje ter Horst, (2007-2010), Labour (PvdA), who commissioned the research, denied exerting any interference.[104][105] In response, Wilders accused her of "playing a dirty game".[106][107]

Some commentrators have argued that the party is far-right; for example, the ex-prime minister Van Agt regards the party as ultra-right-wing, and Bert de Vries (CDA) draws comparisons with the small Centre Party.[108] The political scientist Lucardie, on the other hand, considers it necessary to reserve the 'far-right' qualification for national socialists and fascists.[109]

International scholarly publications have repeatedly referred to the party as far-right.[110] International media outlets and newspapers have followed this classification.[111] On the other hand, it has occasionally been regarded as "centre-right".[112] The party has been regarded by some as anti-Polish, anti-Slavic, anti-Romani and anti-Muslim.[113][31][114] Wilders however maintains that he is not anti-Muslim, only anti-Islam, summing up his views by stating "I don't hate Muslims, I hate Islam".[115]

Fitna production

In 2008, the Friends of the Party of Freedom commissioned a producer, who acted under the name of "Scarlet Pimpernel Productions", a pseudonym adopted out of fear of reprisal,[116] to produce Fitna (Arabic: فِتْنَةٌ), a short film by Geert Wilders. Approximately 17 minutes in length, it shows selected excerpts from Suras of the Qur'an, interspersed with media clips and newspaper cuttings showing or describing acts of violence or hatred by Muslims. The film attempts to demonstrate that the Qur'an motivates its followers to hate all who violate Islamic teachings. Consequently, the film argues that Islam encourages acts of terrorism, antisemitism, violence against women and homosexuals, and Islamic universalism. A large part of the film deals with the influence of Islam on the Netherlands. The film's title, the Arabic word "fitna", means either "disagreement and division among people" or a "test of faith in times of trial".[117] Wilders described the film as "a call to shake off the creeping tyranny of Islamization".[118]

See also


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