Home > Politics > My Political "Biography"
First, no, I have no real reason to write a political biography of myself, since the farthest I came in political activism is *almost* being on the board of directors for a local Socialist Party chapter, that didn't even come off the ground till three years later. However, since my former page on my family's and my history of political activism is dated, I decided to create a new page anyway.
I originate from a relatively politically involved family, at least on my father's side. There are several people who were active members of left-wing political parties in the Netherlands. Being a member of the SDAP (which later became the Labor Party or PvdA) in the 1950s meant you were more socialist than the current Labor's members probably are, since Labor has moved to just a little left from the center according to Dutch norms, which means way more left-wing than the U.S. Democrats anyway. However, being left-wing is, even at that time, not the same as being pro-Soviet, since the SDAP was actually respectable to the point of being on the government (and the Netherlands belongs to the west in cold war terms). My family was actually involved in social activism through the relief of Hungarian refugees in 1956.
Both my parents and I were members of parties that had their original roots in more extreme forms of socialism, but actually in both our situations, remains of totalitarian politics were the reason we left. My mother used to be a member of a progressive party called PPR (Political Party Radicals), which if I remember correctly had its main focus on environmental issues. She left in the 1970s and joined my father in the Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN). For clarity's sake: this party did not have any connection with the Soviet communist party and was by the 1970s a party much like any other in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, however, there were still a number of communist fundamentalists in the party, which my parents despised. Actually, they wanted the CPN to merge with the PPR and another party called PSP (Pacifist Socialist Party). This did happen, which marked the founding of GroenLinks in 1990, but it happened too late for my parents' liking, so they left.
I myself knew a lot about politics by middle childhood, because my parents taught me about it. In fact, I was born in 1986, but still remember Gulf War I. I also learned about national politics, and knew the names of several ministers in the Lubbers III government that was in operation till 1994. I kept an eye on the political news through the two "purple" governments - the reason they're called "purple", my father explained when the first one was formed, is that they're a combination of Labor (red) and the conservative VVD (blue) -, between 1994 and 2002. By then, I'd taken an active stance on many important issues in politics, most notably the emergent war on terror.
In 2002 and 2003, there were several demonstrations I participated in, against the war on Iraq and against rigorous government savings. These demonstrations were organized in part by the Socialist Party, which I'd joined in October of 2002. The SP has its roots in Maoist socialism, but by the time the great famine became known to the west, they abandoned their love of Mao. In the decades that followed, they gradually dropped some of their viewpoints, partly because of increasing power - by 2006, they had 25 of 150 seats in the Dutch Lower House.
I started out as quite an active party member, to the point where, by 2003, I put out my candidacy for the board of directors for my newly being founded local chapter. Unfortunately, I was told that there had already been found a more experienced candidate for my position, I withdrew my candidacy, and never heard of the founding of the chapter again until three years later - and many people on the current board of directors for that chapter don't remember the 2003 attempt to set up the branch.
I agree with many of the Socialist Party's opinions on important issues, such as their position on social security, healthcare (mostly), the economy and the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan (they opposed both). Unfortunately, on some key issues, we differ of opinion, such as the European Constitution that was defeated by the Dutch population in 2005: I supported it, while the SP led the opposition campaign. This successful campaign came up repeatedly at party meetings, and I could never understand why the party was so vigorously opposed to this constitution. Also, I drew increasingly annoyed at the brainless insulting of less traditionally socialist people like those in GroenLinks, without regard for any real issues positions. However, this was not yet a reason for me to leave the party. This reason came in 2007, after Sen. Yildirim was forced to leave the party. I don't even know Sen. Yildirim's opinions, so it has nothing to do with him personally. However, the reason he was expelled is that he was elected as a Senator with so-called preferential votes, by which means a person lower on the party's list can be elected anyway if he as an individual has more votes than someone higher on the list. This is a perfectly legal procedure, but the SP forbids it. Sen. Yildirim was therefore forced to give up his Senate seat, but refused and stood up against the undemocratic practice of forbidding preferential voting. Within this same context, the party's magazine editor was also censored and even temporarily put on leave for wanting to publish a critical article about the matter. I initially was not too involved with the entire controversy, but after Sen. Yildirim had been expelled definitively, I decided to leave the party anyway, because this was really enough proof that the SP may have good ideas, but is still too undemocratic for my liking. It now has a new leader, but I'm not at all convinced that she will reform the party's internal politics.
I now am not a member of any political party, and there haven't been elections since I left the SP. I consider joining GroenLinks, because I have the most in common with that party's opinions (also had when I still belonged to the SP, the reason I joined the SP instead is that they are more vocal), but I may also stay nonpartisan so that I don't need to bother with internal politics anymore.