Political Party Radicals

Political Party Radicals

Infobox Dutch_Political_Party
party_name = Political Party Radicals
party_wikicolourid = VVD
leader = Jacques Aarden (1971-1972)
Bas de Gaay Fortman (1972-1977)
Ria Beckers (1977-1989)
foundation = april 27, 1968
Dissolved = February 16 1991
merged in to the GreenLeft
ideology = progressive Christianity and green politics
international = none
european = none
europarl = Grael
colours =
headquarters =
website = none
The Political Party Radicals (in Dutch: "Politieke Partij Radikalen", PPR) is a former Dutch leftwing Christian and green political party. The PPR played a relatively small role in Dutch politics. It historically linked to the GreenLeft.

Party History

Before 1968

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

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

In March 1967 a group of "regret voters" (ARP-members who regretted voting ARP) published an advertisement in the Protestant paper Trouw, directed at the board of the ARP: they claimed that the leftwing, so called "evangelically radical", ideal of the ARP could not be realized 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 includes Wilhelm de Gaay Fortman, prominent ARP politician, his son Bas de Gaay Fortman, and Jo Cals, former KVP prime minister, Ruud Lubbers, member of the KVP and future prime minister of the Netherlands. In May the group became a formal organization, the Working Group Christian Radicals, which was oriented at making their mother parties more progressive. They have some success in the KVP, which is seeking new allies and a new image, after it had lost the elections of 1967.

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 CDA in 1974. With this appearance the hopes of the Christian Radicals within the KVP that a progressive alliance with the PvdA would be formed, are shattered.


On April 27 1968 part of the group of Catholic radicals leaves their own party and forms the Political Party of Radicals. 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 cooperate closely with the PvdA, the newly founded progressive liberal D66 and initially with the left-wing socialist 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 elections 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 leave the PPR, because they think the party has failed. The cabinet Biesheuvel is formed by ARP, KVP, CHU, VVD and dissenters from the PvdA, DS70.

In 1972 elections 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 cabinet Biesheuvel, 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 cabinet Den Uyl, an extra-parliamentary cabinet composed out of PvdA, D66 and PPR and progressive individuals from the ARP and the KVP, including former Radicals as Lubbers and Wilhelm de Gaay Fortman. The PPR supplied to 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 cooperating with the ARP and KVP, from which many members had just separated led to considerable upheaval within the party. The party congress adopted a resolution stating that the party would not cooperate with these parties in the next cabinet.


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 social-democratic prime minister Joop den Uyl and his Christian democratic competitor Dries van Agt, which caused many PSP-sympathizers to vote for Den Uyl, and too the anti-KVP/ARP resolution adopted by the congress, which made serious participation in cabinet impossible.

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. [Lucardie P. et al. "Verloren Illusie, Geslaagde Fusie? GroenLinks in Historisch and Politicologische Perspectief" 1999, Leiden: DSWO-press; p.45 ]

The party began to debate its political course: some members wanted to continue cooperate with the PvdA, they were called the Godebald-group. Many of the party's founders and former ministers, such as Erik Jurgens were part of this group. Others wanted to cooperate with the PPR and the destalinized 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 Duyn were important exponents of the last group. On party congress in 1981 the party voted on these options, which were colour coded: the Red option (cooperation with the PSP and CPN), the Blue option (cooperation 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 election 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 lost one seat. In 1985 CDA-dissident Stef Dijkman joins 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 cooperated mainly in municipal and provincial elections and legislatives, because a higher percentage of votes is necessary to gain seats in such elections. In 1984 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 energy and nuclear weapons. Both the PSP and CPN were unwilling to cooperate 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 left of the PvdA. After long negotiations, which were pressured by the fall of the Second cabinet Lubbers and the subsequent earlier elections, the party entered in the 1989 elections as part of the GreenLeft. They are joined by the progressive Protestant Evangelical People's Party. Ria Beckers was top candidate and she became chair of the GreenLeft parliamentary party. In 1991 the PPR dissolved itself into the GreenLeft. In the same year the 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 The Greens in the 1994 European elections, without result.

The PPR left a considerable mark on the GreenLeft. Especially the green, environmentalist ideals of the PPR still play an important role. No prominent 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 Radicals referenced the origin of the party, it was founded by the a 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 out of environmental protection, third world development, nuclear disarmament, democratization of the economy and grass roots democracy.

During its existence the party changed from a Christian ally of the 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.


In this table the election results of the PPR 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 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.

*: 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.

Muncipal 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).

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


The PPRs electorate consisted out of young, well educated voters, who often had a Catholic or Protestant background. The electorate had a slight tendency to the West (North, Utrecht and South Holland) and South (Brabant and Limburg).


Organizational structure

The highest organ of the PPR was the congres. It convened once every year. It appointed the party board and decided the order of the First Chamber, Second Chamber, European Parliament candidates list and had the last 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 organized in the Political Party Radicals Youth (Dutch: Politieke Partij Radicalen Jeugd; PPRJ) In 1991 the PPRJ merged into DWARS the 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 the 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 ws founded as party of leftwing 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 D66 were especially close. The three parties formed the core of the cabinet Den Uyl. After the elections of 1977, when the PPR lost a lot of seats, and 1981 when the PPR was excluded from the Van Agt II.

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!.


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