Political Party of Radicals

Political Party of Radicals
Politieke Partij Radikalen
Leader Jacques Aarden (1968–1972)
Bas de Gaay Fortman (1972–1977)
Ria Beckers (1977–1989)
Founded 27 April 1968 (1968-04-27)
Dissolved 16 February 1991 (1991-02-16)
Split from Catholic People's Party[1]
Merged into GreenLeft
Ideology Christian left
Green politics
Political position Left-wing[2]
European Parliament group Rainbow Group

The Political Party of Radicals (Dutch: Politieke Partij Radikalen, PPR) was a progressive Christian[3] and green political party in the Netherlands. The PPR played a relatively small role in Dutch politics. It historically linked to GreenLeft, into which it merged.

Party History

Before 1968

The foundation of the PPR is linked to formation of the De Jong cabinet and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).

After the 1967 general election it became clear that a centre-right cabinet would be formed by the Anti Revolutionary Party (ARP) and Christian Historical Union (CHU), the Catholic People's Party (KVP) and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). Progressive forces within the KVP and ARP had hoped for the formation of a centre-left cabinet with the Labour Party (PvdA) without the participation of the CHU and VVD.

In March 1967 a group of "regret voters" (ARP-members who regretted voting ARP) published an advertisement in the Protestant newspaper Trouw, aimed at the leadership of the ARP: they claimed that the left-wing, so called "evangelically radical", ideal of the ARP could not be realised in a cabinet with the VVD. In April this group began to meet regularly with dissidents from the KVP in the Hotel Americain, this gave the group the name "American Group". The group included Wilhelm de Gaay Fortman, prominent ARP politician, his son Bas de Gaay Fortman, Jo Cals, former KVP prime minister, and Ruud Lubbers, member of the KVP and future Prime Minister. In May the group became a formal organisation, the Working Group Christian Radicals, which was oriented at making their mother parties more progressive. They had some success in the KVP, which was seeking new allies and a new image, after it had lost the 1967 general election.

Azure, billetty Or a lion with a coronet Or armed and langued Gules holding in his dexter paw a sword Argent hilted Or and in the sinister paw seven arrows Argent pointed and bound together Or. [The seven arrows stand for the seven provinces of the Union of Utrecht.] The shield is crowned with the (Dutch) royal crown and supported by two lions Or armed and langued gules. They stand on a scroll Azure with the text (Or) "Je Maintiendrai" (French for "I will maintain".)
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In February 1968 the leaders of the KVP, Norbert Schmelzer, ARP, Barend Biesheuvel and CHU, Jur Mellema made a public appearance, stating that the three parties wanted to work together more closely. This cooperation would eventually lead to the formation of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) in 1974. With this appearance the hopes of the Christian Radicals within the KVP that a progressive alliance with the Labour Party would be formed, were shattered.


Poster for the 1974 elections showing the green nature of the party

On 27 April 1968 part of the group of Catholic radicals left the KVP and formed the Political Party of Radicals (PRP).[4] Prominent radicals, like Lubbers and Cals, did not join the party. A group of radical KVP MPs led by Jacques Aarden left the KVP parliamentary party and formed their own group-Aarden, the parliamentary party of the PPR. The party is joined by some prominent "regret-voters" from the ARP, most prominently Bas de Gaay Fortman.

The party began to co-operate closely with the Labour Party (PvdA), the newly founded Democrats 66 (D66) and initially with the left-wing Pacifist Socialist Party (PSP) in the so-called Progressive Accords (PAK). The parties proposed common election manifestos and formed a shadow cabinet. The PSP left the alliance before the negotiations ended, because the alliance was not socialist enough. The PPR participated in the 1971 general election as part of the PAK. The PPR won only two seats, while the PAK wins only 52 seats, a third of parliament. Jacques Aarden led the party in parliament. Some prominent members left the PPR, because they think the party has failed. The Biesheuvel cabinet was formed by the ARP, KVP, CHU, VVD and the Democratic Socialists '70.

In the 1972 general election the parties tried again. The PAK now won 56 seats and the PPR 7. Former ARP-politician Bas de Gaay Fortman led the party in the elections. A continuation of the Biesheuvel cabinet, which fell within one year is excluded. The only possibility is a centre-left government with the PAK parties and the Christian democratic parties. The PAK parties refuse this possibility and want to form a PAK minority cabinet. A compromise is found in the progressive Den Uyl cabinet, an extra-parliamentary cabinet composed out of PvdA, D66 and PPR and progressive individuals from the ARP and the KVP, including former Radicals such as Lubbers and Wilhelm de Gaay Fortman. The PPR supplied two ministers, Harry van Doorn Minister for Culture, Recreation and Social Work, and Boy Trip, Minister without Portfolio for Science and one state secretary, Michel van Hulten, for Transport, Public Works and Water Management. The fact that the PPR was co-operating with the ARP and KVP, which many members of the party had just left led to considerable upheaval within the party. The party congress adopted a resolution stating that the party would not co-operate with these parties in the next cabinet.


Poster for the 1986 elections showing party leader Ria Beckers in front of the 1983 anti-nuclear weapons demonstration

Before the 1977 elections Bas de Gaay Fortman was replaced as political leader by Ria Beckers. The election results were especially disastrous: the party lost four seats: this is attributed to the political competition between PvdA Prime Minister Joop den Uyl and his Christian Democrat competitor Dries van Agt, which caused many PSP-sympathisers to vote for Den Uyl, and also the anti-KVP/ARP resolution adopted by the congress, which made serious participation in cabinet impossible.

in 1979, following the first direct elections to the European Parliament, the PRP was involved with the Coordination of European Green and Radical Parties (CEGRP) and its unsuccessful efforts to create a single pan-European platform for green and radical politics.[5]

In the early 1980s the placement of American nuclear weapons became an important political issue. The PPR was involved in the organization of national demonstrations against nuclear weapons and more than 80% of the members of the PPR attended one of the two mass protests against the placement nuclear weapons of 1981 and 1983.[6]

The party began to debate its political course: some members (known as the Godebald-group) wanted to continue co-operation with the PvdA. Many of the party's founders and former ministers, such as Erik Jurgens were part of this group. Others wanted to co-operate with the Pacifist Socialist Party and the Communist Party of the Netherlands. They were called the Wageningen Group. Another group wanted to reform the party's course and continue as an independent Green party: Bas de Gaay Fortman and former Provo and Kabouter Roel van Duijn were important exponents of this group. At the party congress of 1981 the party voted on these options, which were colour-coded: the Red option (cooperation with the PSP and CPN), the Blue option (co-operation with the D66 and the PvdA) and the Green option (independent green party). An alliance was struck between the Reds and Greens. The party decided to break its alliance with D66 and the PvdA and try to form an alliance with the PSP and CPN, which would have a strong green identity. In the 1981 general election it kept its three seats. After the elections a CDA/PvdA/D66 cabinet was formed – a continuation of the Den Uyl cabinet without the PPR. The cabinet fell after several months in the subsequent 1982 election where the party lost one seat. In 1985 CDA-dissident Stef Dijkman joined the PPR parliamentary party. He had split from the CDA in 1983 together with Nico Sholten, who joined the PvdA parliamentary party.

In the 1980s the cooperation between PPR, CPN and PSP began to take shape. The parties co-operated mainly in municipal and provincial elections and legislatures, because a higher percentage of votes is necessary to gain seats in such elections. In the 1984 European election the PPR, CPN and PSP formed the Green Progressive Accord that entered with one list in the European elections. They won one seat, which rotated between the PSP and PPR. Party-members also met each other in grassroots extraparliamentary protest against nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Both the PSP and CPN were unwilling to co-operate intensively with the PPR, which was slightly larger in seats and which they saw as a non-socialist party.

After 1989

In 1989 the PSP initiated talks with the PPR and the PSP. Their initiative was supported by an open letter from members of trade unions, environmental movements and the arts which called for one progressive formation to the left of the PvdA. After long negotiations, which were pressured by the fall of the second Lubbers cabinet and the subsequent earlier elections, the party entered in the 1989 general election as part of GreenLeft. They were joined by the Evangelical People's Party (EVP). Ria Beckers was top candidate and she became chair of the GreenLeft parliamentary party. In 1991 the PPR dissolved itself into GreenLeft when GreenLeft became a formal political party.[3] In the same year, GreenLeft's only MEP, former PPR-chair, Verbeek announced that he would not give up his seat in the European Parliament, to allow a former member of the PSP to enter the European Parliament. He would continue as an independent and would be top candidate for The Greens in the 1994 European election, without success.

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The PPR left a considerable mark on GreenLeft. In particular the green, environmentalist ideals of the PPR still play an important role. No prominent leader of GreenLeft currently has a background in the PPR, unlike the PSP and CPN, whose former members are still prominent within the party.


The name "Political Party of Radicals" referenced the origin of the party, it was founded by the so-called Christian Radicals: progressive Catholics. Because they wanted to open their party to all Christians as well as to non-Christians, the dropped the reference to Christianity in their name.

Ideology & Issues

The party did not have a manifesto of principles, instead election manifestos which addressed current issues guided the party's behaviour.

Although the party had Christian roots, it denounced a direct relationship between religion and politics. The party can be seen as an early green party with a post-materialist agenda consisting of environmental protection, third world development, nuclear disarmament, democratization of the economy and grass roots democracy. The party favoured the implementation of a basic income.

During its existence the party changed from a Christian ally of the Labour Party (PvdA) with its roots in the Catholic trade union movement to a party on the left of the PvdA with links to the environmental movement. Several decisions were important in this, but especially the 1981 congress in which the party decided not to cooperate, but try to found a political alliance left of the PvdA with a green program.


This table the PPR's results in elections to the House of Representatives, Senate, European Parliament and States-Provincial, 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 leader of the PPR is a member of cabinet, therefore its participation in cabinets is also listed: if the PPR was in cabinet the highest ranking minister is listed. The membership of PPR and the party chair is also represented.

Year HoR S EP SP Lijsttrekker Fractievoorzitter Party Chair Membership Cabinet
1968 3* 0 n/a 0 no elections Jacques Aarden Pieter Bogaers 2000 opposition
1969 3* 1 n/a 0 no elections Jacques Aarden Erik Jurgens 3000 opposition
1970 0 1 n/a 9+9** no elections Jacques Aarden J.J.G Tonnaer 4000 opposition
1971 2 2 n/a 9+9** Multiple including Jacques Aarden and Bas de Gaay Fortman Jacques Aarden D. Coppes 4284 opposition
1972 7 2 n/a 9+9** Bas de Gaay Fortman Bas de Gaay Fortman D. Coppes 3800 Harry van Doorn
1973 7 2 n/a 9+9** no elections Bas de Gaay Fortman W. van dam 6300 Harry van Doorn
1974 7 4 n/a 32+2** no elections Bas de Gaay Fortman Ria Beckers 11000 Harry van Doorn
1975 7 4 n/a 32+2** no elections Bas de Gaay Fortman Ria Beckers 12800 Harry van Doorn
1976 7 4 n/a 32+2** no elections Bas de Gaay Fortman Ria Beckers 131000 Harry van Doorn
1977 3 5 n/a 32+2** Ria Beckers Ria Beckers Herman Verbeek 134000 opposition
1978 3 5 n/a 6+2** no elections Ria Beckers Herman Verbeek 12600 opposition
1979 3 5 n/a 6+2** no elections Ria Beckers Herman Verbeek 12325 opposition
1980 3 3 n/a 6+2** no elections Ria Beckers Herman Verbeek 11500 opposition
1981 3 1 n/a 6+2** Ria Beckers Ria Beckers Wim de Boer 11567 opposition
1982 2 1 n/a 11+1**+3*** Ria Beckers Ria Beckers Wim de Boer 11063 opposition
1983 2 1 n/a 11+1**+3*** no elections Ria Beckers Wim de Boer 8934 opposition
1984 2 1 1*** 11+1**+3*** no elections Ria Beckers Wim de Boer 8305 opposition
1985 3**** 1 1*** 11+1**+3*** no elections Ria Beckers J. van der Plaat 7848 opposition
1986 2 2 1*** 11+1**+4*** Ria Beckers Ria Beckers J. van der Plaat 6151 opposition
1987 2 1 0*** 10+3*** no elections Ria Beckers J. van der Plaat 5901 opposition
1988 2 1 0*** 10+3*** no elections Ria Beckers Bram van Ojik 5785 opposition
1989 2***** 1***** 1***** 13***** Ria Beckers
#1 of the GreenLeft
Ria Beckers
leader of GreenLeft
Bram van Ojik 5823 opposition
1990 2***** 1***** 1***** 13***** no elections Ria Beckers Bram van Ojik unknown opposition

*: Group Van Aarden, who split from the Catholic People's Party in 1968; no formal ties with the PPR. **: elected on combined PvdA/PPR lists (estimate). ***: elected on combined PPR/CPN/PSP or PPR/PSP lists (estimate). ****: joined by group Dijkman. *****: cooperating in GreenLeft parliamentary parties.

Municipal and Provincial Government

The PPR supplied several municipal and provincial councillors. In the 1970s it also cooperated in the North Holland provincial executive and in several local executives such as Amsterdam.

In the following figure one can see the election results of the provincial election of 1982 per province. It shows that the support for the party was distributed equally throughout the country, with a slight tendency to the West (North, Utrecht and South Holland) and South (Brabant and Limburg).

Province Result (seats)
Groningen 1
Friesland 1**
Drenthe 1**
Overijssel 1
Gelderland 2
Utrecht 1*
North Holland 2
South Holland 2**
Zeeland 1
North Brabant 1
Limburg 2

*: elected on combined PvdA/PPR lists (estimate). **: elected on combined PPR/CPN/PSP or PPR/PSP lists (estimate).


The PPRs electorate consisted of young, well educated voters, who often had a Catholic or Protestant background. The electorate was slightly more concentrated in the West (North, Utrecht and South Holland) and South (Brabant and Limburg).


Organisational structure

The highest organ of the PPR was the Congress. It convened once every year. It appointed the party board and decided the order of candidates on electoral lists for the House of Representatives, Senate and European Parliament and had the final say over the party program.

Linked organisations

The PPR published its own magazine which was called Radicals Paper (Dutch: Radikalenkrant) between 1968 and 1973 and 1982 and 1990 and PPR Action Paper (Dutch: PPR aktiekrant; PPRAK) between 1973 and 1981.

The PPRs youth was organised in the Political Party of Radicals Youth (Dutch: Politieke Partij Radicalen Jeugd; PPRJ) In 1991 the PPRJ merged into DWARS GreenLeft youth.

In the 1980s the scientific institute of the PPR cooperated strongly with the scientific institutes of the PSP and CPN. They published De Helling together since 1987. The Rode Draad was published since 1985 it was a magazine for municipal and provincial councillors of both the PSP, PPR and CPN.

International Cooperation

Since 1979 the party cooperated with other Green and leftwing parties in organizations like Grael, which later became the European Green Party.

Relationships to other parties

Cooperation has been an important theme for the PPR as the party was founded as party of left-wing Christians who wanted to cooperate with the PvdA, which later became committed to forming a political alliance left of the PvdA.

Between 1971 and 1977 the relations with PvdA and Democrats 66 were especially close. The three parties formed the core of the Den Uyl cabinet. After the elections of 1977, when the PPR lost a lot of seats, and 1981 when the PPR was excluded from the second Van Agt cabinet.

The relations with the CPN and PSP started out badly, as the CPN and the PSP saw the party as a reformist, non-socialist party. After 1981 when the PPR had committed itself to extra-parliamentary protest the relations with the reforming CPN and PSP became better. In 1989 this resulted in the formation of the GreenLeft

International Comparison

As an early Green party the PPR is comparable to New Zealand's Values Party. As a Green party founded by progressive Christians it is comparable to the Belgian Green!.

See also


  1. Paul F. State (1 January 2008). A Brief History of the Netherlands. Infobase Publishing. p. 226. ISBN 978-1-4381-0832-2.
  2. Maarten Kuitenbrouwer (25 November 2013). Dutch Scholarship in the Age of Empire and Beyond: KITLV – The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, 1851–2011. BRILL. p. 180. ISBN 978-90-04-26036-8.
  3. 1 2 Dick Richardson; Chris Rootes (16 January 2006). The Green Challenge: The Development of Green Parties in Europe. Routledge. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-134-84403-6.
  4. Hans Daalder (1989). Politics in the Netherlands: How Much Change?. Psychology Press. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-7146-3361-9.
  5. Elizabeth Bomberg (2 August 2005). Green Parties and Politics in the European Union. Routledge. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-134-85145-4.
  6. Lucardie P. et al. Verloren Illusie, Geslaagde Fusie? GroenLinks in Historisch and Politicologische Perspectief 1999, Leiden: DSWO-press; p.45
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