Forum for Democracy, a conservative anti-immigration Dutch party founded by Thierry Baudet, now has more members than any other party in the Netherlands.
FvD is the political party with the highest number of members according to figures from the Documentation Center for Dutch Political Parties (DNPP), which publishes the numbers annually. The is the first time that FvD has had the greatest number of members of all the parties. In total there are 42 794, which is over 3 000 more than the CDA [Christian Democrats].
Gerrit Voerman from the DNPP calls it a unique development, because the party of Thierry Baudet has been in existence for only three short years. Last year 12 000 members joined Forum. In March the party won the elections in the provincial states, but there was also an internal fight which led to a split in the First Chamber (Senate) under the leadership of co-founder Henk Otten. In December, Baudet announced that (FvD) was the largest party in the Netherlands.
In recent years Forum has made a concerted effort to recruit new members. Thus, at the end of last year, the party launched a campaign in which mostly VVD members were called on to switch to the Baudet party. “The number of members is important for Forum because of the charisma of the party; they can now say they are the largest party,” says the political commentator Xander van der Wulp. “It is really an achievement that they have collected those members in such a short time, as the number with other parties is falling.”
A greater number of members also ensures a higher government subsidy. The subsidy consists of a general share that is for all parties, and a special share. The largest proportion of the special share (80 percent) is based on the number of Parliamentary seats, the other 20 percent on the number of members.
The second largest party is the PvdA with more than 41 000 members, followed by the CDA with 39 000. Last year the two parties lost members, outdistanced by the Forum. The number of members for the CDA went down more than 9 percent and the PvdA by 3 percent. The greatest number of defections was from the SP; the party lost 12 percent of its members. The VVD, the biggest party in the Tweede Kamer (Lower House), is in ninth place.
Other parties that grew are the Party for Animals and Green-Left. The Christian Union and Denk remain stable. In total there are more than 300 000 people who are members of a political party represented in the Tweede Kamer.