An anniversary as you rarely see it in politics. Today it is 75 years since the Labour Party was founded, at a meeting in the main hall of the hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam. Other than the SGP, the PvdA is therefore the oldest political party in the Netherlands.
The corona epidemic stands in the way of exuberant festivities. And otherwise, there is little reason for great joy, because the jubilee is not very well off. The party has not yet exceeded the unprecedented election defeat of 2017. The departure of party leader Lodewijk Asscher has not yet been well digested by everyone.
But party chairman Nelleke Vedelaar is a hardy optimist and cannot be knocked out of the field. ,, It is a special day for all of us. If you realise what we have achieved in those 75 years, the construction of the welfare state, the introduction of the AOW pension, womens emancipation, then we can be proud of that. At the same time, we realize that we have just begun. If you look at society now, I really see the relevance of Social Democracy. The corona crisis makes visible what we have been feeling for a long time: division, skew growth, housing shortage, low pay in many sectors. For far too many people there has been great uncertainty in their lives. That must and can be different.”
The PvdA, with the CDA, is the architect of the welfare state. The name of the first PVDA Prime Minister, Drees, is inextricably linked to the AOW pension, that of Den Uyl with the spread of knowledge, power and income, and Koks motto was jobs, jobs, jobs.
According to Vedlaar, the essence of the mission has not changed over the years. “In the founding programme of the SDAP (forerunner of the PvdA) of 1894 it was already stated that there should be equal pay for equal work between men and women. Now you see that flexworkers, people with zero-hour contracts and self-employed workers in the labour market are the first to suffer from the coronacrisis. That is what the PvdA in 2021 comes up for.”
According to Vedelaar, the highlight in the history of the PvdA is the construction of the welfare state. The big low point the defeat of 2017.,, The economy shrunk and unemployment rose when we started to rule with the VVD in 2012. But in 2017, the economy grew again and unemployment fell. Were a party that always stands there when its hard. But we should have done things differently, and weve been working on that over the past few years. We have slowed down the increase in the AOW pension age, we want to return the basic scholarship for students. We have learned from mistakes made.”
The PvdA under the leadership of Joop den Uyl had the electoral culmination; in 1977 the party won 53 seats. Since then, despite some outliers led by Kok (45 in 1998) and Samsom (38 in 2012), the trend has been down. The steady decline recites Vedelaar to a change in the political playing field. ,, The fragmentation has become large. But that can always change again. Two years ago, in the European elections, we were the biggest in the Netherlands, and in five weeks we can be that again.”
Various voter studies show that many people want less market forces and more attention to care, education, housing and climate. Mostly left-wing themes. But in the polls you can see for a long time that the Labour Party and other left-wing parties do not benefit at all.
Cooperation with these other parties is therefore necessary, according to Vedleaar. ,, I glad to see that also among other parties the belief in the market is over. At the same time, I say to all voters: do not be deceived. VVD and CDA continue to opt for large companies and the minimum wage and care salaries do not increase with them. A left block is the answer for the best future of the Netherlands. Our opponents are not on the left, but on the right.”
However, recently GreenLeft leader Jesse Klaver put the PVDA leader Lodewijk Asscher in the spotlight with the demand that the cabinet should run off because of the payment affair. Prompt Asscher laid down his list attraction. And SP leader Marijnissen said last week in an interview he could also work well with the CDA and the CU.
Vedelaar:,, The cooperation between the left parties is there and there remains. Being a strong alternative to VVD and CDA is our main goal. Thats what Im focusing on. And should the PvdA be able to participate after 17 March, we will not do so without at least one of the other left-wing parties.”