The SGP does not want to remove the position from its principle programme on the ‘blocking and eradicating idolatry and false religion‘. “What we want at this time is in our election program,” says leader Kees van der Staaij tonight in Nieuwsuur.
The first sentence of the principle programme of the SGP refers to the notorious article 36 of the Dutch Confession of Faith. It states that the government should “ban and eradicate “all idolatry and false religion”. The SGP principle programme also talks about “unbelievably propaganda, false religions and anti-Christian ideologies” which the government should exclude from public life.
A position that is at odds with the freedom of religion as enshrined in the Constitution. When asked which religions the party is referring to by “false religion”, Van der Staaij says: “With all the formulations of principle, we need to see from time to time whether we can update that. From the world of the past you make the translation into the present time. The old formula was for freedom of conscience, but against religious freedom. Now we would rather say that we are in favour of religious freedom.”
Catholics feel appealed to by the SGP. The principle programme states that the pursuit of European unification is “rejected, all the more so since it promotes the influence of Roman Catholicism (…).” The program continues: “There has rarely been an opportunity passed, where it has not somehow made use of the circumstances to increase its own power and influence.”
The Catholic voter Klaas Gerard Jumelet would like to vote SGP, but finds these texts a major obstacle. He asked Van der Staaij in Nieuwsuur if he was prepared to remove the references from the principle programme.
“ Catholics can rest assured. At this time it is unthinkable that we say that Catholics would not have freedom of religion”, Van der Staaij reacts.
The party also believes that “the government of God is called upon to punish evil, to which the death penalty belongs.” The recent election programme says: “The death penalty can be a just punishment for life crimes, including terrorist offences.”
“ For the worst war criminals, there were also death sentences. We believe that this ultimate punishment would be justified for exceptional life crimes. We say extradite to countries with the death penalty should also be possible. That is a specific point we are making. Linked to that specific measure of extradition,” says Van der Staaij.
“ A two-thirds majority is required for a constitutional amendment, but you can see that opinion polls show that a majority is in favour of that. It‘s a very delicate subject, but we don’t want to rule it out.”
There has been unrest within the party about possible cooperation between the SGP and Forum for Democracy (FvD). SGP Chairman Dick van Meeuwen ruled out cooperation with FvD last month, after revelations about anti-Semitic app traffic within the party. Van der Staaij rushed that same day to correct this: he does not want to exclude any party, including FvD.
For SGP mayor Gert-Jan Kats van Veenendaal reason to cancel his membership of the SGP. “With openly anti-Semites you cross a line that you should not want to cross. Too bad the party does not draw this line,” said Kats.
But Van der Staaij always sees opportunities for cooperation, although he thinks that FvD has already put himself aside. “Cooperation can also be done with parties who have different views. I keep saying: look at parties, when it really comes to coalitions, how are you related programmatically and how did they behave?”
For Peter Kits, a possible collaboration with a party like FvD is a no-go. He has been voting SGP for 18 years, but has doubts this year because he does not like working with FvD. Because of alleged anti-Semitsim within that party. He, too, asked a question to Van der Staaij.
Van der Staaij reassures voter Kits: “We are distanging ourselves from all forms of anti-Semitism. I‘m committed to that again and again. Can you work together credibly, that’s the question? FvD is not an administrative party you can work with.”