Peter Plasman showed up at the Netherlands’ national electoral commission’s offices Monday to register one of the more unusual parties bidding to take part in the upcoming Dutch election — a party for people who don’t vote. Plasman was hardly an exception when it came to flouting convention. A record 81 parties have expressed interest in taking part in the March 15 parliamentary election. Monday was the day they all had to hand in their paperwork. Among the eclectic roster of potential players, there also is the Colorful Cow Party, which casts itself in part as an antidote to the fierce anti-Islam rhetoric of the Party for Freedom. Its website includes a recipe for a traditional Dutch mashed potato dish, prepared with Turkish sausages and Moroccan spices. The party wound up not filing paperwork Monday because it could not find enough funds, its founder, Daan van Reenen, said in an email.
Other tiny splinter parties that tap into the Netherlands’ long tradition of non-conformism could eat into the constituencies of the mainstream powerhouse parties of Liberal, Christian Democrat, anti-immigrant or Socialist bent.
The real match-up is likely to be between the ruling People’s Party of Freedom and Democracy — the party of two-time Prime Minister Mark Rutte — and the Party for Freedom fronted by firebrand Geert Wilders. But the tiny parties, if they manage to meet the electoral commission’s criteria, will make for a colorful campaign.