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Populist Parties and Politicians in the Netherlands



Since the beginning of a new century, Dutch politics stopped ‘ being dull’ . New parties and politicians emerged with an apparently complete different style and agenda. The results of some new parties in elections and polls are, certainly by Dutch standards, spectacular. Pim Fortuyn received posthumous 17% of the votes in 2002, Geert Wilders’ Partij van de Vrijheid managed to obtain more than 15% of the votes in 2010 while the once insignificant maoist Socialistische Partij was one of the main winners of the 2006 elections with almost 17% of the votes. Finally Rita Verdonk’s movement Trots Op Nederland was for a while quite successful in the polls (around 15%).

Populism is one of the terms which appears frequently in popular and specialist writings about all the new developments in Dutch politics. Still the term populism seems rarely fully understood. Is it a political style or an ideology? What are the connections between democracy, populism and representative politics? Is it a right-wing or a left-wing phenomenon or neither?

In this course we will examine the presence of populism in Dutch politics in the new (21st) and old (20th) century. At first, we will identify the defining elements of populism by examining the international literature on this subject. Then we will apply our concept to various Dutch movements, politicians and parties in past and presence. Finally, we will try to determine the conditions for success and failure of populism in the Netherlands.

Methods of Instruction

Lectures, plenary discussions, presentations.

Study Material

Paul Taggart, Populism, Buckingham, Open University Press 2000.

David van Reybrouck, Pleidooi voor populisme, Amsterdam-Antwerpen 2009 [1e dr. 2008].

Anton Zijderveld, Populisme als politiek drijfzand, Cossee 2009.


A presentation, a book review during the course and one term paper.

Entrance Requirements/recommendations

Passive knowledge of Dutch is required for this seminar.


Wednesday 7 September till 26 October, 13.00-15.00 hrs. in SA21 (except 14 Sept SA31, 21Sept 5A41 and 5 Oct 5B02) and
Friday 9 September till 28 October, 11.00-13.00 hrs. in 1A22 (except 23 Sept 1A03, and 7 Oct room 6C03)