Livable Netherlands

Livable Netherlands (Dutch: Leefbaar Nederland, LN) was a Dutch political party. Pim Fortuyn began his political career in the party.

Livable Netherlands
Leefbaar Nederland
LeaderPim Fortuyn (2001–2002)
Fred Teeven (2002–2003)
Haitske van der Linde (2003–2004)
Fons Zinken (2004–2007)
ChairmanJan Nagel (1999–2004)
Fons Zinken (2004–2007)
Founded25 March 1999 (1999-03-25)
Dissolved10 September 2007 (2007-09-10)
Political positionCentre[2]


Historically there have always been parties in States Provincial (provincial legislatures) and municipal councils that were independent from the national party system. In the predominantly Catholic south of the Netherlands during the 1950s, the Catholic People's Party gained eighty percent of the vote in national elections, local and provincial groups of independents were organised.

During the 1980s, independent parties began to spread to other parts of the Netherlands. Some successful groups like Independent Rijswijk began to move towards a national movement. A congress for this purpose held in 1989 did not result in much progress towards this goal, although independent parties were still very successful in municipal elections especially in Hilversum and Utrecht.

Some of them chose the name Leefbaar ("liveable"). It became a distinct political movement. It was not a party in itself but consisted of many municipal branches. These branches had no formal ties, and often had radically different programs, sharing only their disdain for the political establishment.

In 1999, prominent media personalities Henk Westbroek and Jan Nagel, chairs of the highly successful Leefbaar Utrecht and Leefbaar Hilversum parties respectively, founded Leefbaar Nederland as a spin-off from their local parties. Nagel became the party's chair. Nagel had previously been chair of the VARA, a broadcaster linked to the Labour Party.

In 2001 the party's support and visibility began to increase. They came to be seen as an opposition movement against the second Kok cabinet. In November 2001 Pim Fortuyn was elected as the party's lijsttrekker and LN saw rapid growth in opinion polls. On 10 February, a few months before the election, he was discharged because of a controversial interview published in the Volkskrant newspaper. Fortuyn subsequently organised his own party, the Pim Fortuyn List, taking several former LN parliamentary candidates and members with him. On 10 March the Amsterdam public prosecutor Fred Teeven was chosen as new lijsttrekker. In the election of May 2002 the party won only two seats in the House of Representatives while the Pim Fortuyn List polled in second place with 26 seats.

In the election of 2003, self-help guru Emile Ratelband was put forward by the party board as their candidate for the lijsttrekker position. Teeven, who had gained some recognition as MP, withdrew his candidacy for the position when a motion of no confidence was not supported by the party's congress. During a tumultuous congress, the 22-year-old Haitske van der Linde, the daughter of TV personality Wubbo van der Linde and candidate of the party's youth movement J@L, was elected lijsttrekker. She was unable to hold on to the two seats the party held, and the party left parliament. Ratelband, who had formed his own list, was still less successful in the polls. The party tried to dissolve itself, but there were not enough members present at the congress to do that, and the party left the public spotlight. In 2006 the party announced that it would disband itself: it owed a large debt to the Ministry of the Interior, who had lent them money for the 2003 election, and only a handful of paying members were left.


The term "Leefbaar" was turned into a political brand by the Leefbaar Utrecht and Hilversum parties; the founders tried to reproduce this success by taking over the name.

Ideology and issuesEdit

The party was a populist party, oriented towards democratising society and solving several difficult political issues pragmatically. The party saw itself as a movement against the 'old parties' and especially those cooperating in the second Kok cabinet and sought not to characterize itself on the traditional left-right political spectrum. The core principles of the party included direct democracy, reliable government, downsizing state bureaucracy and law & order policies.

They had a ten-point plan which included:


This table shows the results of the LN in elections to the House of Representatives, Senate and European elections, as well as the party's political leadership: the fractievoorzitter, is the chair of the parliamentary party and the lijsttrekker is the party's top candidate in the general election. These posts are normally taken by the party's leader.

House of representativesEdit

Election year Lijsttrekker Fractievoorzitter House of Representatives
# of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Government
2002 Fred Teeven Fred Teeven 153,055 1.6
2 / 150
in opposition
2003 Haitske van der Linde not in parliament 38,894 0.4
0 / 150
  2 extra-parliamentary

The party were unable to ever obtain any European Parliament or Senate seats. Their support came mostly from independent voters, who no longer felt connected to a particular party.

Municipal and Provincial GovernmentEdit

The municipal and local Leefbaar parties were not an official part of the party. Some of these parties, most notably Livable Rotterdam were however founded around the same time hoping to gain from the same momentum. Many of these parties are represented in provincial and municipal legislatures and cooperated in several municipal executives. They were highly successful in the 2002 municipal elections, but lost much of their support in the 2006 municipal elections.


Organisational structureEdit

The highest organ of LN was the Congress in which every member could participate. It convened once every year. It appointed the party board and decided the order of the House of Representatives, Senate and European Parliament candidate lists and had the final say over the party program.

Linked organisationsEdit

The party's youth organisation was called (; J@L). The party published De Leefbaar Koerier (Livable Courier). The scientific institute of the party was called Foundation Scientific Bureau Livable Netherlands, which published De Fundering (The Foundation).

International comparisonEdit

Internationally, Leefbaar Nederland may be compared to Forza Italia, a populist party centered on a prominent media personality.


  1. ^ Nordsieck, Wolfram (2003). "Netherlands". Archived from the original on 6 September 2005.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ Otjes, Simon; Krouwel, André (2018). "Old Voters on New Dimensions: Why Do Voters Vote for Pensioners' Parties? The Case of the Netherlands". Journal of Aging & Social Policy. 30 (1): 24–47. doi:10.1080/08959420.2017.1363589. ISSN 0895-9420. PMID 28812440.

External linksEdit