Learn more about Femke Halsema
|Born||25 April 1966
 Life before politics
In 1988 she left the school without finishing, and she began studying general social sciences at the University of Utrecht. During her study she had several jobs, which were related to her education: between 1991 and 1993 she worked as intern for the work group Police and Allochtonen at the Ministry of Home Affairs and as a student-assistent for prof. F. Bovenkerk. In 1992 she was an "added teacher of scientific methods and techniques" at the faculty for social sciences, that is, she helped teach statistics to lower year students. In 1993 she graduated specializing in criminology.
After 1993 Halsema's career began to develop. She was seen as an upcoming political talent within the PvdA. She began to work at the Wiardi Beckman Stichting (WBS), the scientific institute linked to the PvdA. In 1995 she wrote the book "Ontspoord. Opstellen over criminaliteit & rechtshandhaving" ("Derailed, Essays about criminality and the law") which was published by the WBS. In 1996 she became a fellow of the German Marshall Fund, which involved a two month trip around the United States. Since 1996 she was an editor of De Helling, a political magazine, linked to GroenLinks. In 1996 she combined her work at the WBS with a job at De Balie, a well-known Dutch political-cultural centre. As such she led the project Res Publica in 1997, it involved coordinating a conference about the role of the constitution in modern society. In 1997 she also joined the committee which wrote the PvdA programme for the 1998 elections. She also wrote "Land in zicht. een cultuurpolitieke benadering van de Ruimtelijke Ordening" ("Land in sight, a culture-political approach to spatial planning") together with Maarten Hajer, it was published by the WBS. She had been asked to become a candidate for the PvdA in the 1998 elections.<ref>"Femke Halsema deelt nu groene rozen uit" ("Halsema now hands out green roses") in Vrij Nederland of December 6, 1997</ref>
In the autumn of 1997 she left the PvdA. The direct cause of her break with the party was the repressive way the police had acted on popular protest during the European summit in Amsterdam, when 500 people were taken into preventive custody.<ref>"Femke Halsema deelt nu groene rozen uit" ("Halsema now hands out green roses") in Vrij Nederland of December 6, 1997</ref> But she had been unhappy with the course of the PvdA much longer. It had been unable to renew its social-democratic program and use the rising economic tide to invest in the public sector. After the break with the PvdA she had several smaller jobs: she had an editorial column in the newspaper Het Parool and in the IKON radio show "The Other World". She was also an editor of the series "Knowledge, Politics and Public Opinion" for the publisher Van Gennip.
 Political Life
In 1998 she became a Tweede Kamer candidate for GroenLinks. As number three on the list, she was the highest new candidate and sure of a seat in the Tweede Kamer. In the elections, GroenLinks more than doubled its seats to eleven. In her first period in parliament, Halsema was spokesperson on justice. She received some attention when she criticized the new migration law proposed by Job Cohen.
In the 2002 elections, Halsema remained third candidate, but the party lost one seat. After the elections Halsema became vice-chairman of the GroenLinks parliamentary party. In July she was the party's spokesperson for the first debate with the new Balkenende Cabinet. In November Paul Rosenmöller unexpectedly left politics. Halsema became the new political leader of GroenLinks. As party leader, Halsema takes a more prominent place in politics. She promotes several legislative initiatives: the first is to make judicial review of laws on civil rights possible, and the second, together with D66 leader Boris Dittrich is to fix the price of books.
Halsema led the party in the 2003 elections, in which the party lost two seats. She remained the parliamentary party's chair and was the spokesperson for culture and media. Between October 2003 and January 2004, Halsema left the Tweede Kamer to give birth to twins. She was replaced by Marijke Vos. After she returned to parliament Halsema started an ideological discussion within the party. She claimed that her party was "the last left liberal party in the Netherlands"<ref>“Halsema kiest voor liberalisme” ("Halsema chooses Liberalism") in NRC Handelsblad 11 October 2005</ref> breaking with the socialist roots of her party. She also started to call for closer cooperation between the three left wing parties in parliament, the SP, the PvdA and GroenLinks. She asked PvdA-leader Wouter Bos to speak out in favour of a left wing government after the elections in 2006; however, he refused to do so, not wanting to alienate the christian-democrat CDA. On 6 January 2006, she was surprisingly proclaimed "Liberal of the year" by JOVD, the youth organization of the conservative liberal VVD party, because of her new liberal course, and specifically her new view on the welfare state<ref>Halsema Liberal of the year on JOVD site</ref>. On 3 July 2006 the nomination for the party leadership closed with Halsema as the only candidate. This means she will be the top candidate again in the 2006 parliament elections.
 Political views
Halsema sees herself as a left-liberal, in Dutch she prefers "vrijzinnig" (free-thinking) over "liberaal" (liberal) because the conservative liberal VVD is seen as the liberal party. In 2004 she started a debate within her party about a new political course. Her new course emphasizes two concepts: freedom and pragmatism.
With the concept freedom Halsema seeks to connect herself with the "freedom-loving traditions of the left"<ref>a reference to the GroenLinks declaration of principles made by Halsema in Halsema, F. "Van Angstpolitiek naar Kanspolitiek" (in Dutch; "From the Politics of Fear to the Politics of Chance")</ref>. Like Isaiah Berlin, Halsema discerns two traditions of freedom: negative and positive liberty<ref>Halsema, F., “Vrijzinnig Links” in De Helling 15:2 (in Dutch; "Free-thinking Left")</ref>. For Halsema negative liberty is the freedom of citizens from government interference. She wants to apply this concept especially to the multicultural society and rule of law, where she seeks to reduce the influence of government. Positive liberty is the emancipation of citizens from poverty. Halsema wants to apply this concept especially to the economy, the welfare state and the environment, where the government should take more action.
With pragmatism Halsema contrasts her politics with those of the new populist political right, such as Pim Fortuyn. While the right, in Halsema's eyes, has become dogmatic and tries to reform society on the basis of new principles, Halsema claims that the left has got more feeling for the "narrow margins of politics."<ref>a reference to a book written by PvdA prime minister Joop den Uyl in Halsema, F., “Vrijzinnig Links” in De Helling 15:2 (in Dutch; "Free-thinking Left")</ref> According to Halsema the left now emphasizes just outcomes and not just principles.
This new course has been put into several practical proposals on the economy, which together form "Vrijheid Eerlijk Delen" ("Sharing Liberty Fairly"). These proposals have led to considerable debate. Halsema proposes that the main goal of the welfare state should be the emancipation of citizens from poverty<ref>Halsema, F., Vrijheid Eerlijk Delen ("Sharing Liberty Fairly") can be obtained here in Dutch</ref>. To ensure this she proposes a new model for the welfare state, which is modeled on the Danish welfare state. In her welfare state the government tries to ensure full employment by cutting taxes on labour, increase labour flexibility and creating more government jobs. If there is more work, everybody can get a job, after a maximum of one year of unemployment.
 External links
- Femke Halsema's biography on Parlement.com (in Dutch)
- Linkse Lente, weblog of Femke Halsema and others (in Dutch)de:Femke Halsema