I’m fascinated by associations, groups, unions, fanclubs… well maybe not fanclubs. But if there is a group of people dedicated to something, and they have meetings and membership cards, I’m interested in learning about them. And it is even more compelling if they’ve been around for awhile.
Here in the Netherlands, for example, It seems there has been a tradition of people being not only supporters of a political party, but actually card carrying members. I realize this happens in many countries, but it is not often that I hear the numbers or that someone comes forward and says “Oh Im a card carrying member of the Sloth Party.”
Today I read about how membership numbers for political parties in the Netherlands is shrinking. A very interesting, though not at all surprising, development. As with every passing election voters grow tired of one party and turn to another, and then grow tired of that one and turn to yet another, or they go back to the previous one maybe. And despite all their voting efforts, these parties continue to disappoint and generally do things that people don’t agree with.. even their own party members. So why continue to be a member of a party that never seems to represent you and they said they would.
The numbers in the Netherlands are as follows:
- Christian Democrats (party of the prime minister) – 69.200 members
- Labor Party – 59.327
- Socialist PArty – 50.238
- Liberal PArty – 36.832
- United Christians – 27.683
- Green Left – 21.901
- Animal Party (yes!) – 6972
Note that I skipped a few parties because I don’t feel like describing them, though they would be located at the bottom of the list. Furthermore the populist-far-right Freedom Party has no membership, yet you can bet plenty of people vote for them they would just prefer not to have any evidence linking their vote back to themselves.
In the end I think the way people think of elections has changed. Instead of wanting to be a member of a party, and going to meetings and trying to influence party policies, it starts to resemble a menu in a restaurant… you choose what looks like it would be good. And if you dont like it, you spit it out, or choose something else next time. Unfortunately there is no equivalent, besides leaving the country, of “going to another restaurant cause this one is bad”. Then again like so many citizens, you could go on a hunger strike.