Learn more about Democrats 66
|Founded||October 14 1966|
|Headquarters|| Partij Bureau D66 |
Laan van Meerdervoort 50, Den Haag
|Political Ideology||Social liberalism, Radicalism, Progressivism|
|International Affiliation||Liberal International|
|European Affiliation||European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party|
|European Parliament Group||ALDE|
|See also||Politics of the Netherlands|
D66 was founded on October 14 1966 by 44 people. Its founders are described as "homines novi", only 25 of the 44 had previously been members of a political party. The initiators were Hans van Mierlo, a journalist for the Algemeen Handelsblad and Hans Gruijters, a municipal councillor in Amsterdam. Van Mierlo became the party's political leader and Gruijters the party's chair. The foundation of the party was preceded by the Appeal 1966 on October 10, in which the founders appealed to the people of the Netherlands to re-take their democratic institutions. The party renounced the 19th century political ideologies which dominated the political system and wanted to end pillarization. It called for radical democratization of the Dutch society and its political system and it called for pragmatic and scientific policy-making.
The party entered in the 1967 elections with Hans van Mierlo as their top candidate. The party won an unprecedented seven seats in parliament. In 1971 the party won an additional four seats and it formed a shadow cabinet with the social democratic PvdA and the leftwing Christian PPR. In the 1972 elections the three parties formed a political alliance called the "Progressive Accord (Dutch: Progressief Akkoord; PAK) and presented a common electoral program (Keerpunt '72; turning point '72). In the elections D66 lost nearly half its seats, leaving only six. The alliance became the largest political force in the country, but it did not gain a majority. After long cabinet formation talks the three PAK-parties formed an extra-parliamentary cabinet joined by progressive members of the Christian-democratic ARP and the KVP. The cabinet was led by the social-democrat Joop den Uyl. After the formation talks Van Mierlo left politics, feeling that his political position within the parliamentary party was untenable. The other party-founder Hans Gruijters became Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning. Van Mierlo was replaced by Jan Terlouw. He became the chair of the parliamentary party.
In the period 1972-1974 the party lost a dramatic number of members (from 6000 to 300) and polled very poorly in the provincial elections of 1974. The party also lost half of its senators in the 1974 indirect election of the Eerste Kamer. On one of the party congresses a motion was put forth to abolish the party. A majority of the members voted in favour, but the two-thirds majority was not reached. In reaction Terlouw started a campaign to revitalize the party, involving a membership drive and a petition under the electorate. He emphasized issues other than democratic reform, and gave the party a more liberal orientation. The party doubled its membership in 1975 and in the 1977 election the party even won two additional seats, although that same year D66 lost all its seats in the First Chamber. In the election of 1981 D66 more than doubled its seats, to seventeen. They entered government with the Christian-democratic CDA and the PvdA. Terlouw became Minister of the Economy. The cabinet was riddled by the personal and ideological conflicts between the Christian-democratic Prime Minister Van Agt and the Social-democrat minister of Social Affairs Den Uyl. The cabinet fell nine months after it was formed, when the social-democrats left the cabinet. D66 and the CDA continued to govern in a care taker government. In the subsequent elections of 1982 D66 lost two-thirds of its support, and was left with only six seats. After the elections Terlouw left politics, and he was replaced by Maarten Engwirda. The party was confined to opposition.
In 1986 Van Mierlo returned to politics. He emphasized democratic reform as the core issue of the party and wanted to abolish the polarization of PvdA and VVD, in order to form a government without the Christian-Democrats (CDA). He led the party in the elections of that year and gained three seats. In the 1989 election the party won another three seats, making a total of twelve, and it was asked to join the formation talks of a CDA/PvdA/D66 cabinet. Although the social-democrats preferred a government with D66, the Christian-democrats did not. In the end D66 was numerically not necessary for the coalition, and they were kept out. Although in opposition, D66 adopted a constructive approach towards the government.
They were rewarded for this in the 1994 elections in which the party doubled its seats to twenty-four. D66 was able to form its 'dream coalition'. The purple coalition which combined the social-democratic PvdA, and the conservative-liberal VVD. The cabinet initiated legislation which the D66 has always advocated, such as the referendum, same-sex marriage and the legalisation of euthanasia. The centrist economic policies of the cabinet were also seen as a great success. Van Mierlo became minister of foreign affairs. Before the elections of 1998 Van Mierlo stepped back and Els Borst, the minister of health became the top-candidate. D66 lost ten seats in the election, but its coalition partners won considerable ground (at the cost of D66). The cabinet continued. Although D66 was numerically not necessary, it was seen as the glue that kept these two opposites together. Borst stepped down as party leader and became vice-prime minister and minister of health. Thom de Graaf led the parliamentary party. Within the party, a group of age twenty-somethings, called Opschudding (Upheaval) began to call for a more explicit progressive liberal course. In 1999 a constitutional reform, which would allow referenda was rejected by the First Chamber. A group of dissidents around the prominent VVD member Hans Wiegel had voted against. D66 stepped out of the cabinet. In the subsequent formation talks D66 returned to cabinet, in return for another important issue for D66, the directly elected mayor, and a temporary referendum law.
In 2002 the tide had turned against the purple coalition, the party of Pim Fortuyn won considerable ground. The three purple parties lost an unprecedented 43 seats. D66 was left with only seven seats. The CDA/LPF/VVD cabinet that was formed lasted only three months. In the 2003 election D66 lost another seat, leaving only six. De Graaf stood down, in favour of Boris Dittrich. After long formation talks between CDA and PvdA, a CDA/VVD/D66 cabinet was formed. In return for investments in environment and education, and a special minister of democratization, a post taken by De Graaf, who also became vice-prime minister, D66 supported the centre-right reform cabinet and some of its more controversial legislation. In May 2005 the first chamber rejected a constitutional reform that would allow a directly elected mayor. The legislation was introduced in the second purple cabinet, but it was unable to get a two-thirds majority because the social-democrats, whose minister De Vries had initiated the reform, rejected the legislation, because they were opposed the model of election proposed by De Graaf. De Graaf stepped down, but the rest of the ministers stayed on, after D66 was promised more investment in education and the environment, and a plan for electoral reform. A special party congress was called to ratify this so-called Easter Accord. 2,600 members (20 percent of total membership) were present and the congress broadcasted live on Dutch public television. The congress agreed to remain in cabinet by a large majority. Alexander Pechtold replaced De Graaf as minister of government reform. Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, the minister of the economy became vice-prime minister.
In January 2006 Dittrich stepped down as chair of the parliamentary party, because of the way he handled a debate on sending troops to Afghanistan. Lousewies van der Laan replaced him. In May 2006 the party polled particularly bad in the municipal election. D66 began to lose a considerable number of members, some of who founded deZES, another radical democratic, progressive liberal party. On a special party congress on May 13 a motion was put forth, demanding the withdrawal of D66 from the cabinet - it was rejected. In June 2006 an internal election was held in order to choose the top candidate for the 2007 election. Both Van der Laan and Pechtold entered. Pechtold won the elections, making him political leader of the party. During the a special plenary parliamentary debate of July 28, 2006, on the naturalization process of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, D66 supported a motion of no confidence against minister Rita Verdonk. As D66 was a junior coalition partner, this caused a crisis in the second Balkenende cabinet. The cabinet refused to remove Verdonk from her position. Lousewies van der Laan, parliamentary leader of D66, did not feel that the D66 faction could support the cabinet any longer, and that the cabinet had to resign. Later on June 29, the two D66 ministers Alexander Pechtold and Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst resigned, causing the downfall of the Balkenende cabinet. New elections were called for November 2006 and the cabinet continues to govern, as a minority caretaker government.
In October 2006, just before the D66 party congress and its 40th anniversary as party, D66 founder Hans van Mierlo has asked the question if D66 has still political legitimacy. He believes that many errors were made in recent history, and that only the acceptance of these errors can provide for any credibility to D66. Van Mierlo has put his support behind party leader Pechtold, who in his view can provide for such credibility.<ref>"Oprichter van Mierlo: heeft D66 nog zin?", Het Parool, 2006-10-06.</ref>
At its foundation the party was called Democraten 1966 (Democrats 1966; D'66). "Democrats" was reference to both the goal of the party (radical democratization) and the U.S. Democratic Party with which the party identified. The year (1966) was a reference to the year of foundation, and was supposed to convey a modern image. In 1981 the name was changed to Democraten 66 (Democrats 66; D66), the name had become a successful political brand, but the year no longer conveyed a modern image.
 Ideology and issues
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</span> The ideology of D66 is a highly contested subject within the party. The question is tied to the reason for its existence. There are two currents within the party: the radical democrats and the progressive liberals. These two currents although some times antagonistic currently complement each other, as both emphasize the self-realization of the individual. The Radical League and the Freethinking Democratic League, two early twentieth century parties are historic exponents of these two traditions.
 Radical democrats
The first party congress emphasized radical democratization of Dutch society and the political system. Its ideal was a two-party system. To obtain this it wanted to reform the electoral system after the American first past the post model. The electoral reform was gradually moderated, now the party favour a German system which combines both proportional and majoritarian electoral systems. This radical democratization was combined with pragmatic and anti-dogmatic attitude towards politics. Hans van Mierlo, the party's leader between 1966 and 1972 and between 1986 and 1998 and the party's figurehead, is an important exponent of this tendency within the party.
 Progressive liberals
D66 progressive liberal current has historically been much weaker than its radical democratic current. Progressive liberals seek to adopt a more substantive course for the party, breaking with its pragmatism. Under Jan Terlouw, between 1972 and 1982, D66 began to emphasize new issues like the environment, education and innovation. He called D66 a fourth current, next to social-democracy, Christian-democracy and the conservative liberalism of the VVD. In 1998 the group "Opschudding" called for progressive liberal course for the party. In the party's manifesto, adopted in 2000, the party explicitly adopted a progressive liberal image. National political reasons explain the usage of the label social liberal, since the more right-wing VVD labels itself as the liberal party.
Some of the parties most important policies:
- The party is in favour of a mixed economy combining the best features of market economics and government intervention. It seeks to reform the social security system.
- D66 is a staunch defender of the liberal Dutch policies towards euthanasia, gay marriage, abortion and prostitution.
- Democratization remains important for the party. It favours electoral reform but it also wants to implement a binding referendum, abolish the Eerste Kamer and elect the prime minister and mayor directly.
- D66 wants to invest government funds in education and innovation, but yield government control of education in favor of diversity and competition.
- The party is very positive towards European integration.
- The environment is an important issue for D66.
In this table the election results of the D66 in Tweede Kamer, Eerste Kamer and European elections is represented, 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. It also possible that the party leader is member of cabinet, if the D66 was part of the governing coalition, the "highest ranking" minister is listed. The membership and party chair of D66 is also represented.
|1966||0||0||n/a||0||no elections||none||extra-parliamentary||Hans van Mierlo||1500|
|1967||7||0||n/a||0||Hans van Mierlo||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||G. Ringalda||3700|
|1968||7||0||n/a||0||no elections||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||H.J. Lookeren-Campagne||3850|
|1969||7||0||n/a||0||no elections||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||J.A.P.M. Beekmans||5075|
|1970||7||0||n/a||47||no elections||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||J.A.P.M. Beekmans||6400|
|1971||11||6||n/a||47||Hans van Mierlo||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||J.A.P.M. Beekmans||5620|
|1972||6||6||n/a||47||no elections||Jan Terlouw||Hans Gruijters||R.E. van der Scheer-van Essen||6000|
|1973||6||6||n/a||47||no elections||Jan Terlouw||Hans Gruijters||J. ten Brink||6000|
|1974||6||3||n/a||2||no elections||Jan Terlouw||Hans Gruijters||J. ten Brink||300|
|1975||6||3||n/a||2||no elections||Jan Terlouw||Hans Gruijters||J. ten Brink||667|
|1976||6||3||n/a||2||no elections||Jan Terlouw||Hans Gruijters||Jan Glastra van Loon||2000|
|1977||8||0||n/a||2||Jan Terlouw||Jan Terlouw||opposition||Jan Glastra van Loon||4410|
|1978||8||0||n/a||31||no elections||Jan Terlouw||opposition||Jan Glastra van Loon||8424|
|1979||8||0||2||31||no elections||Jan Terlouw||opposition||Jan Glastra van Loon||11677|
|1980||8||0||2||31||no elections||Jan Terlouw||opposition||Henk Zeevalking||14638|
|1981||17||0||2||31||Jan Terlouw||Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst||Jan Terlouw||Henk Zeevalking||17765|
|1982||6||0||2||56||Jan Terlouw||Maarten Engwirda||opposition||J. Berkom||14500|
|1983||6||6||2||56||no elections||Maarten Engwirda||opposition||Jacob Kohnstam||12000|
|1984||6||6||0||56||no elections||Maarten Engwirda||opposition||Jacob Kohnstam||8774|
|1985||6||6||0||56||no elections||Maarten Engwirda||opposition||Jacob Kohnstam||8000|
|1986||9||6||0||56||Hans van Mierlo||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||S. van der Loo||8300|
|1987||9||5||0||45||no elections||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||S. van der Loo||8700|
|1988||9||5||0||45||no elections||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||S. van der Loo||8543|
|1989||12||5||1||45||Hans van Mierlo||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||M. de Jager||unknown|
|1990||12||5||1||45||no elections||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||M. de Jager||9829|
|1991||12||12||1||116||no elections||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||H.J.D. Janssen||11325|
|1992||12||12||1||116||no elections||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||H.J.D. Janssen||13000|
|1993||12||12||1||116||no elections||Hans van Mierlo||opposition||W.I.J.M. Vrijhoef||14500|
|1994||24||12||4||116||Hans van Mierlo||Gerrit-Jan Wolffensperger||Hans van Mierlo||W.I.J.M. Vrijhoef||15000|
|1995||24||7||4||68||no elections||Gerrit-Jan Wolffensperger||Hans van Mierlo||W.I.J.M. Vrijhoef||13230|
|1996||24||7||4||68||no elections||Gerrit-Jan Wolffensperger||Hans van Mierlo||W.I.J.M. Vrijhoef||13747|
|1997||24||7||4||68||no elections||Thom de Graaf||Hans van Mierlo||T.A. Kok||13391|
|1998||14||7||4||68||Els Borst||Thom de Graaf||Els Borst||T.A. Kok||12027|
|1999||14||4||2||39||no elections||Thom de Graaf||Els Borst||T.A. Kok||12027|
|2000||14||4||2||39||no elections||Thom de Graaf||Els Borst||A.G. Schouw||11878|
|2001||14||4||2||39||no elections||Thom de Graaf||Els Borst||A.G. Schouw||12188|
|2002||7||4||2||39||Thom de Graaf||Thom de Graaf||opposition||A.G. Schouw||unknown|
|2003||6||3||2||31||Thom de Graaf||Boris Dittrich||Thom de Graaf||Alexander Pechtold||12711|
|2004||6||3||1||31||no elections||Boris Dittrich||Thom de Graaf||Alexander Pechtold||13507|
|2005||6||3||1||31||no elections||Boris Dittrich||Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst||Frank Dales||12827|
|2006||6||3||1||31||Alexander Pechtold||Lousewies van der Laan||Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst||Frank Dales||11065|
 Members of the Second Chamber of Parliament
- Lousewies van der Laan, fractievoorzitter
- Bert Bakker, vice-fractievoorzitter
- Boris Dittrich
- Boris van der Ham
- Fatma Koser Kaya
- Ursie Lambrechts
 Members of the First Chamber of Parliament
After the 2003 Lower House elections the party has three representatives in the Lower House:
- Eddy Schuyer, fractievoorzitter
- Hans Engels
- Gerard Schouw
 Members of the European Parliament
The D66 delegation is part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
 Muncipal and Provincial Government
 Provincial government
Two of the twelve Queen's commissioners are member of D66, namely the commissioner in Flevoland and Utrecht. The party cooperates in one provincial executives, namely North Holland. It has thirty-one members of provincial legislatives.
In the following figure one can see the election results of the provincial election of 2003 per province. It shows the areas where D66 is strong, namely the urban areas like North Holland and Utrecht. The party is weaker in rural provinces like Friesland and Zeeland.
|Province||Votes (%)||Result (seats)|
 Municipal government
26 of the 414 mayors of the Netherlands are member of D66. The party cooperates in several local executives and has 30 aldermen. It cooperates in the Utrecht and Leiden local executive. It has 144 members of local legislatives and 16 members of burough legislatives. Fourteen of the burough councillors were elected in Amsterdam, and only two in Rotterdam.
The electorate of D66 have a relatively weak commitment towards the party. It ranges from sixteen percent of vote to two. D66 tends to attract unbound, 'floating' voters. D66 voters are relatively young, tend to be female, highly-educated and have strong post-materialistic values. The party's electorate is concentrated in the larger cities. D66 lacks pillarized organizations around it.
 Organizational structure
D66 has long history of strong internal democracy. The highest organ of the D66 is the General Assembly, it is formed by delegates in which every member can participate. It convenes multiple times per year. It appoints the party board and has the last say over the party program. The party list, including the party's top candidate, for the First Chamber, Second Chamber, European Parliament candidates are elected per referendum. The party has 310 branches all over the Netherlands.
 Linked organisations
The party's scientific institute is called "Foundation Scientific Bureau D66". It publishes the "Idea" (Dutch: Idee). The party's magazine is the "Democrat". The education institute is called Education Centre D66. D66 has an organization for cooperation with Eastern-European liberal parties called "Foundation International Democratic Initiative D66".
The youth organization of D66 is called the Young Democrats (Dutch Jonge Democraten; JD). It has produced several prominent D66'es like the MP Boris van der Ham. The JD publishes the Demo. It is a member of the European federation LYMEC and the international federation IFLRY.
 International organisations
 Relationships to other parties
D66 is at the centre of the Dutch political spectrum, therefore it has cooperated well with nearly all parties.
Historically D66 has cooperated very well with the social-democratic PvdA. They are both centre-left parties. They were four cabinets together (Den Uyl, Van Agt II, Kok I and Kok II); and they formed a shadow cabinet during the early seventies. The relations with the PvdA came under heavy tension three times: in 1981 when D66 decided to continue to govern with the CDA, after the PvdA ministers had left the cabinet Van Agt I; in 1989 when the social-democrats formed a government without D66; and 2003 when D66 joined a cabinet of CDA/VVD/D66.
Ideologically the left-liberal D66 is linked to the more conservative liberal VVD. This resulted in three coalition governments (Kok I, Kok II and Balkenende II). In the European parliament both D66 and the VVD are member of the ELDR: they have campaigned with the same ELDR program in European Parliament elections; they have formed electoral alliances and they have worked together in one VVD/D66 European Parliament parliamentary party.
The relations with CDA have been less cooperative. Historically, the CDA is ethically conservative, while D66 is ethically liberal. They both espouse the same centrist economic policies however. This has led to the formation of the CDA/D66 caretaker government Van Agt III but also the cooperation of D66 in the third Balkenende cabinet.
Both D66 and the GreenLeft have their background in the 1960s: they both have the same post-materialist, pro-european, multiculturalist, environmentalist political agenda. This has not yet resulted in any substantial cooperation.
 International Comparison
Internationally the party is comparable to other leftwing oriented liberals such as the UK Liberal Democrats, the Danish Radical Left, the French Radical Party of the Left and the Italian Radicals. Centrist members of the U.S. Democratic Party, like Bill Clinton often take comparable stances.
 See also
- Contributions to liberal theory
- Liberalism worldwide
- List of liberal parties
- Liberal democracy
- Liberalism in the Netherlands
 External links
|Political parties in the Netherlands|
|Second Chamber:||Christian Democratic Appeal (41) | Labour Party (33) | Socialist Party (25) | People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (22) | Party for Freedom (9) | GreenLeft (7) | ChristianUnion (6) | Democrats 66 (3) | Party for the Animals (2) | Political Reformed Party (2)|
|First Chamber:||Christian Democratic Appeal (23) | Labour Party (19) | People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (15) | GreenLeft (5) | Socialist Party (4)| Democrats 66 (3) | ChristianUnion (3) | List Pim Fortuyn (1) | Political Reformed Party (1) | Independent Senate Fraction (1)|
|European Parliament:||Christian Democratic Appeal (7) | Labour Party (7) | People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (4) | GreenLeft (2) | Socialist Party (2) | Europe Transparent (2) | ChristianUnion/Political Reformed Party (2) | Democrats 66 (1)|