The Netherlands will be heading to the polls in a few weeks time, so I thought I better bone-up on party platforms. We have a wonderful multi-party system here, with governments almost always being formed by coalitions. (The “hung parliament”, so dreaded in Britain, is our standard variety.) There is even a “Party for the Animals” with a sitting member of parliament. But there are “only” about 10 main parties; still, too many for me to keep track of the fine points in their differences.
So I went online to the Stemkompas (Vote Compass) and answered a battery of 30 questions about my political views. The results plotted me on a grid, showing where I was in relation to the major parties. I ended up somewhere in the empty space between the Christian Union and the Labour Party. Both parties are slightly leftist, where the desire is for government to be relatively more pro-active in ordering society (the majority of Dutch political parties are found here). However, the Christian Union, though leftist, falls on the conservative side of the axis (“traditional values” & “monocultural”), whereas Labour is leftist and progressive (“personal freedoms” & “multicultural”). My answers to the poll questions plotted me as also being Leftist and Progressive, though closer to the center on both counts.
Leftist and Progressive. Who would have ever thought? Well, I guess my American family would have thought. Or at least had a hunch. They’ve been witnessing, for 30 years, my drift away from being a 1980 Reagan Republican. Luckily, I’ve also largely given up being the dogmatic person I once was, so there are no fireworks when we get together.
One of the benefits of living in the Netherlands has been learning that Christians, even Evangelicals, can ascribe to a wide variety of political persuasions, and still be authentic in their faith. The presumption of many American (and British?) Evangelicals, that to be a true believer necessarily means being a right-wing conservative, is here a proven nonsense. Committed Christians can be found in all the parties, in every quadrant of the political grid, and it is the same love of God and love of neighbour that motivates their activism.
Who knows? Maybe one day, if I leave here and go somewhere else, my politics will drift in an entirely new direction, to something more appropriate to my new context. I’m not too concerned about it, as long as those two loves are the guiding lights. My life and understanding has been enriched by my time in Holland, and I’m thankful to the Dutch for the lessons learned.
Alas, I still don’t know for whom I’ll vote.