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<nettime> Limping messenger: Postscript on Dutch political party colour
Tjebbe van Tijen on Mon, 22 Feb 2010 18:31:05 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Limping messenger: Postscript on Dutch political party colour symbolism


I have added a postcript to my February 20 article

Colour pallet and flag of new Dutch government coalition.

A full illustrated version can be found at the Limping Messenger/Hinkende
Bode blog:

http://limpingmessenger.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/color-pallet-and-flag-of-new-dutch-government-coalition/

Postscript on Dutch political party colour symbolism
========

[picture]

The ?Purple Cabinets? (Paars Kabinetten) covered two periods: 1994-1998 and
1998-2002 and were made up of three parties: PvdA/Partij van de Arbeid
(Labour Party), the VVD/Volkspratij Voor Vrijheid en Democratie (People?s
Party for Freedom and Democracy/Liberal Party in the Dutch history sense;
see my short explanation also on this blog) and D66/Democraten (19)66
(Democrats 1966), 1966 being the founding year of that party amidst
political turmoil, especially in Amsterdam with its joyful Provo
?revolution?. Paars/Purple added a new pallet to Dutch politics, 1994 it
was the first time in eighty years that a government was formed in which
none of the  ?confessional parties? participated. The notion of
confessional parties in the Netherlands means Christian Parties of which
there were many in the Netherlands with one big Catholic party
(KVP/Catholieke Volkspartij) and many distinct Protestant Christian
parties. Three of these fused in 1980 into what is called since then
CDA/Christen Democratisch App?l: the Catholic KVP and the Protestant
CHU/Christelijk Historische Unie (Christian Historical Union), and the
ARP/Anti-Revolutionaire Partij (Anti-revolutionary Party). The Catholic KVP
used in the fifties of last century still the yellow and white papal
colours in vertical stripes, plus the light blue, also associated with the
catholic church especially the virgin Maria. In the seventies the people?s
party may have felt the competition of the socialist parties more strongly
in their stronghold, the southern provinces of the Netherlands, which may
explain the introduction of the colour red in some of their election
posters (like the one with Klomp? and De Jong). The Protestant ARP was the
oldest political party in the Netherlands, founded in 1879, the letter ?A;
standing for ?anti-revolutionair?, anti-revolutionary meaning the refusal
of the ideas of the French Revolution. Their favoured colour  in the ARP
election posters has been ?purple? a colour  which has  several
association: royalty in the political arena and in the biblical sense
associated with the liturgical period of penitence and mourning. The
expensive dye (Tyrian from Lebanon) needed to paint cloth purple, may have
given it  its air of exclusiveness, from Roman emperors to copy-cat
dignitaries of the christian church. The protestant CHU/Christian
Historical Union was a split off from the ARP and had a more liberal
attitude to issues like participation of women in politics. The CHU has
used a combination of purple and orange in its election posters, displaying
their attachment to the royal house of Orange. The christian fusion party
CDA has chosen from the beginning to use the colour ?green?, mostly with
lettering in white and in the early eighties still a band of ?liberal dark
blue?. Also D66 has used from their beginning in 1966 the colour ?green?,
thus the CDA has purposely tried to deflate the symbolism of colour coding
in politics.

[picture]

The liberal VVD can look back at half a century of continuity of its colour
usage. Only in the fifties the colour red can be seen, but then as a
threatening red back ground from the Cold War area against which a pure
white American statue of Liberty is displayed with the colour blue as a
symbol of liberalism. From the fifties onward the royal house orange is
added to clarify that the party has no intention to change the Ntehrelands
a a constitutional monarchy. The red only comes back in the display of the
national Dutch flag as in the Mr Oud election poster.

[picture]

The social-democrat PvdA/Labour party has of course ?red? as its main
colour. The PvdA is a post war reconstitution of the earlier SDAP/Sociaaal
Democratische Arbeiderspartij (social-democrat worker?s party). ?Stemt
Rood!? (Vote Red) says a postcard from a century ago, with a prototype
worker in red clad. The factory chimneys and red flags have long
disappeared from the social-democrat iconography, but red still sticks and
the joint symbol of European social-democrat parties,  the red rose in a
fist, has been kept, be it often in a more artistic rendering than the
stylised version of the seventies. PvdA party leader  Wouter Bos and his
cortege hand out red roses on their election descents in the streets; a
symbolic gesture that a week or so ago has rumoured to have been been
highjacked by the leader of the one of the new Dutch parties at the right
hand of the spectre (also a spinoff of the liberal VVD party) Rita Verdonk?

[picture]

Rita has been seen campaigning in an almost deserted inner town of Almere
on a sunday morning. I somehow think to have seen it on television, but
alas, could not find sufficient proof afterward. The colour issue is a
strong element in Dutch elections as can be seen in this inglorious
reportage of election campaigners on Saturday February 6 in the town of
Spijkernisse (near Rotterdam) with the PvdA and their red pullovers, scarfs
and roses, versus the orange scarfs of Rita Verdonk and her brand new
TON/Tros Op nederland (Proud of the Netherlands) party. A hilarious
photograph shows the TON and VVD teams meeting, both using the royal orange
as an expression of their political position.

[picture]

The post WWII right side of the political spectre Dutch parties have little
or none consistency in their political colour pallet. I am purposely
leaving out the very popular NSB/Nationaal Socialistische Beweging of Anton
Mussert ? active from the beginning of the thirties to the end of the WWII
(who used the Dutch ?tricolore? and the colours yellow, red and black) ?
because the new right wing parties may be xenophobic to a certain extend,
but none of them can be characterised as racist and/or anti-semite. To do
so would be  a ?reductio ad Hitlerum? , a false comparison.

First post war newcomer on the national scene was the Boerenpartij/Farmers
Party of the a man known as ?Boer Koekoek? (Farmer Cuckoo, the bird being
his family name and in Dutch that bird has another connotation than in
English, so not necessarily a fool). Their election poster and the poster
of Binding rechts/Bound to the Right (a split off from the Boerenpartij)
have green and orange as their colours. The Centrum Partij/Party of the
Center  mostly known as the vehicle of its lonely member in the Dutch
parliament Janmaat, copied the colour palette of the liberal VVD party  and
implementing this in a Dutch national setting with a lion shown in a
heraldic posture defending the rights of the ?autochthon Dutch population.?
The Centrum Partij/CP hardly filled the decade of the eighties with their
?neither left nor right? activities and have been subjected to both
leftwing activist physical attacks and anti-racist organisation court
cases. In retrospect the  xenophobic discourse of CP leader Janmaat  is
pale in comparison with some of islamophobic sermon offered by Geert
Wilders (it would be too much of a derivation to go in further detail here,
but an article of DeNieuweReporter weblog from last year tackels some of
the issues at stake).

Interesting to see is that two of the latest upswing parties in the
righthand spectre of Dutch politics have hardly any specific typography or
colour pallet: the LPF/Lijst Pim Fortuyn (List Pim Fortuyn) and the
PVV/Partij Voor de Vrijheid posters look similar in concept though. (for a
detailed explanation of the complexities of the phenomenon of Pim Fortuyn
you may read my article written just after his murder in 2002). We just see
the leaders looking at us in a way that is both composed and joyful,
suggesting the new future that lays ahead when we vote for them. Only
recently Wilders and his PVV have embarked on some form of design with the
seagull as  a totem animal.

The last design to mention, the emblem of Rita Verdonk her TON/Trots op
Nederland combines the Dutch tricolore with a royal orange stripe in the
middle. Real Dutch royalits wil hoist on official festive days the national
flag plus an orange free floating streamer on top. The design suggests also
an American police badge that can be flashed in appropriate circumstances?.
This is a less than subtle association because Rita Verdonk was a minister
for Integration and Immigration and for a short while also minister of
Justice in two of the Balkenende governments (2003-2006). She made her
political carreer in the VVD party after a period in which she worked in
prison management and the Dutch secret services. Verdonk was renowned for
her harsh anti-immigration policies and her militant proposals to Dutch
parliament to evict and extradite illegal asylum seekers. In the end Rita
Verdonk isolated herself by her impulse and populist approach to politics
which lead to her expulsion from the VVD party (it could be the influence
of her more youthful alter-ego that make her fail as a states woman, from
the years that she migrated as a youngster through successive radical
movements from the Union of Law Trespassers (BWO) to the PSP (Pacifist
Part) and the Nijmgen squatters movement, Verdonk according to some sources
was known in those years as ?Red Rita?). Will there be a reunion of the
tripartite right-wing liberals in the Netherlands? VVD+PVV all in one TON
(ton also means barrel in Dutch)? Maybe the Trots Op Nederland/TON emblem
has this reunion embedded in its code: Red for Rita, Orange for Mark
(Rutten/VVD), Blue for Geert (Wilders)/PVV. I now have the association of
Rita Verdonk represented by  a ?red herring? at the centre of her TON party
emblem.

Tjebbe van Tijen
Imaginary Museum Projects
Dramatizing Historical Information
http://imaginarymuseum.org
web-blog: The Limping Messenger
http://limpingmessenger.wordpress.com/


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