An important function of a political party is the recruitment and vetting of politicians. This function is one of the cornerstones of the party political system that has characterized Dutch politics since the late 19th century. Political parties in Europe are increasingly finding it difficult to attract quality candidates and the level of politicians is conspiciously falling. All Dutch parties combined have about 300,000 members, which is 2.6 percent of the electorate. Ten percent or 30,000 of them are active members and amongst these the 12,000 political offices and 15,000 party political positions are distributed. Nearly every active political party member has some kind of job! Any political party that wants to leave its mark, must not only win votes, but also find thousands of candidates to staff the administrative and political machine of the Dutch state. A new succesful party attracts nutters and opportunists, which is a big risk to a controversial right-wing party that faces a hostile media. But there is no way around it. Or is there?
The Freedom Party is recruiting slowly
Mr. Geert Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) is recruiting and vetting its aspiring politicians very securely. All recruited politicians are vetted by Geert Wilders personally. The PVV announced this weekend that they recruited enough local politicians to contest the 2010 municipal elections in The Hague and Almere. both cities have high probabilities of victory. In the 400 plus other villages, towns and cities of the Netherlands the PVV will field no candidates. Mr. Geert Wilders stated:
We have not found enough people that I am willing to vouch for.Mr. Wilders wants to avoid a repeat of the 2001 LPF-fiasco, when the late Mr. Fortuyn's party went under in squabbling of its upstart members. Remarkably the PVV is not only not running in Amsterdam, the Dutch capital. But also not in Rotterdam, where there is massive dissaffection with the Multicultural society, as evidenced in the strength of the remainder of Fortuyn's old Rotterdam Party, Leefbaar Rotterdam (LR). Mr. Marco Pastors (Dutch), the leader of LR, was relieved and remarked:
He [Wilders] would have taken many seats in the case of Rotterdam elections. But he knows that nutty councilmen would destroy everything in the national elections. He kept a cool head.Wilders' strategy: straight for the jugular!
It is his stated strategy to recruit politicians to first staff his parliamentary and party fraction after the 2010 parliamentary elections. Next he must be ready for the 2011 provincial elections and field candidates for the provincial chambers. These in turn appoint senators to the Dutch Senate. When everything goes well the Freedom Party will then have significant clout in the legislature and be able to influence policy. The PVV received a lot of Flak from the media and politicians like Greens Femke Halsma, who accussed the PVV of "abandoning its voters".
A low risk, high yield strategy
Despite the Flak the road that the Freedom Party will take is clear. They will take as little risk as possible in the next two years and still reach for the pinnacle of power. Afterwards they will be able to take time and recruit candidates for the municipalities.