The newly elected MPs of the DS'70 group on 11 May 1971. Source: National Archives, CCO
The newly elected MPs of the DS'70 group on 11 May 1971. Source: National Archives, CCO

Yearbook Gems - Newcomers in the Chamber (2002)

From now on, our Yearbooks of Parliamentary History can be read again on our website. The volumes of the Parliamentary History series are also available via open access. In the coming weeks, we will regularly highlight a gem from our Yearbooks.

The parliamentary elections of 22 November 2023 produced many new MPs but only one new party: Nieuw Sociaal Contract (NSC). The party founded by Pieter Omtzigt gained 20 seats, which is a good number but the record is still held by the Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF), which made a stormy debut in 2002 by being elected to parliament with an unprecedented number of 26 seats. The largest new party until then was DS'70, which entered the House in 1971 with eight seats. 

The 2002 Yearbook of Parliamentary History had Newcomers in Politics as its theme. Researcher at the DNPP Paul Lucardie writes in this Yearbook about the emergence of political parties. This could be by merger (CDA, 1980) or split-off (SP, 1971/72) but also as an initiative of citizens who became alarmed by certain problems (D66, 1966). 

Lucardie also discusses the fact that many parties try to get into parliament, but only a very limited group actually succeeds. Even with our low electoral threshold, the chances of being elected as a new party to the Lower House are limited: at most, only one in seven new parties succeed.

Once that threshold is met, however, it is essential for a new party to find its own 'niche' and build its own electorate. Lucardie also writes about new parties participating in government, something new parties in the past rarely got the chance to do right away. It happened to LPF and DS'70 within six months and a year of their formation, respectively. In most cases, it led to electoral decline and few results. 

So, co-ruling is not always a guarantee for success. Is a role in opposition better? What is wise for a newcomer? In 2002, Lucardie saw four possible roles for a new party: proclaim new ideas as a prophet, steer established parties in a certain direction as an external conscience, address more or less neglected interests or participate in government. Time will tell what role NSC will play.

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Centre for Parliamentary History
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Current affairs, History, Politics