Political pamphlets on a sign
Political pamphlets on a sign

Political parties between freedom and restraint

This project investigates whether legal and constitutional regulation of the structure, organisation and function of political parties is needed. Under current Dutch law, parties are rarely regulated. This is due to the freedom of association: everyone should theoretically be able to establish a political party that conforms to their own ideology.

However, this lack of regulation clashes with political practice because political parties play a crucial role in our representative democracy. For example, party leadership exerts a major influence on candidate lists and on the voting behaviour of our elected representatives. Should this aspect be left to the parties, now that their membership is declining? Should the government ensure that the transparent funding of parties continues? Can the government demand that parties give their members a say? And what happens when political parties manipulate the rule of law? The current Dutch constitution offers few rules for intervening in such situations. 

The Netherlands and Europe

Dutch law also differs from other Western European countries where the legal and constitutional regulation of parties has been growing for several decades. The level of regulation varies: in England and Denmark regulations may be somewhat restricted, while in Germany and Spain regulations are laid down more extensively. The last two countries may even ban parties on the basis of the constitution.

This raises the question of whether the Dutch parliament should be following these international examples. In order to answer this question, the researchers will analyse which legal status and function political parties should have within the current constitutional system.



Joris Gijsenbergh, Versplintering. Zoeken naar de balans tussen bestuurbaarheid en representativiteitDe Hofvijver 12:133 (2022).

Hansko Broeksteeg and Joris Gijsenbergh, De Evaluatiewet Wfpp: tussenstation of voorlopigTijdschrift voor Constitutioneel Recht 13:3 (2022) 200-218. doi: 10.5553/TvCR/187966642022013003003

Joris Gijsenbergh, Van ontploffen tot reguleren. De visie van D66 op partijregulering, 1966-2022 (pdf, 417 kB)Idee. Tijdschrift voor het sociaal-liberalisme (2022) 25-29.

Joris Gijsenbergh, Oneerlijk dat lokale partijen geen overheidssubsidie krijgen, Trouw (22 oktober 2021).

Hansko Broeksteeg, Financiering van politieke partijen. Tussen private vrijheid en publieke normenArs Aequi (Maart 2020) 228–229.

Ronald Tinnevelt, PartijendemocratieArs Aequi (Januari 2020) 4–5.

Ronald Tinnevelt, Political Parties and “The Long Road of Participatory Deliberative Democracy”Krisis. Journal for Contemporary Philosophy 40:1 (2020) 107-118). https://doi.org/10.21827/krisis.40.1.37060

Hansko Broeksteeg and Ronald Tinnevelt (eds.), Politieke partijen als anomalie van het Nederlandse staatsrecht (Deventer 2015). This volume forms the foundation of this project, by exploring the regulation of political parties..


Interview with Joris Gijsenbergh in Caspar van de Poel, ‘Een partijverbod: werkbaar instrument tegen extreemrechts?’, de Kanttekening. de andere k(r)ant (07-03-2022).

An interview with Joris Gijsenbergh in ‘De toekomst van de politieke partij’, in an episode in the podcast Appèl of the Dr. Hans van Mierlostichting (03-05-2022).


This research project is funded by the Dutch Fonds Staatsman Thorbecke, which is managed by the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW).

Contact information

More information on this research study? Questions from the media may be directed to the science editor. All other questions may be directed to the researcher.