From affordability to sustainability: how do political parties want to keep our country mobile in the coming years?

It is an urgent call that sounds like an alarm bell in the ears of everyone involved in mobility in the Netherlands. The question is whether the same sound can also be heard among the political parties? “If nothing happens, the Netherlands will literally and economically come to a standstill.” This is what Marga de Jager, the chairman of the Mobility Alliance, says, a partnership of 25 organizations in the transport sector, including the ANWB, the Cyclists' Union, Schiphol and the NS. The alliance advocates that the new cabinet invest an additional 2 to 3 billion euros annually in transport infrastructure.

political parties

Now that political parties have further refined their positions on mobility in their election manifestos, it is more than ever time to recognize this urgency and take action. Or as De Jager puts it: “In any case, make sure that what was planned is also implemented in the coming years.” The mobility plans of Dutch political parties show a sharp contrast in visions and approaches. In a country where mobility plays a critical role in everyday life, each of the major parties is offering a unique twist on how they want to reform this vital sector.

But there's more. De Jager points out that without adequate investments in mobility, the process of sustainability is also at risk. This not only has ecological implications, but also threatens the economic vitality of the country. Moreover, there is a social time bomb lurking. If the costs for mobility services continue to rise without government intervention, these services will become unaffordable for a large group of people. Time for our editorial staff in the run-up to the House of Representatives elections for an analysis and our summary insight into the various party programs.

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Marga de Jager - CEO ANWB

De VVD focuses on affordability and efficiency, supported by technological innovations. The party is therefore popular among middle groups and entrepreneurs. But the VVD's position to reduce excise duties on cars is at odds with their aim for a rapid transition to electric driving, raising questions about the consistency of their plans. The VVD strives to see public transport and the car as equal options, but their proposals still seem to favor the car.

De PvdA-Green Left shifts the focus to social inclusivity, with an emphasis on making public transportation affordable and accessible to all. This socially focused approach sounds nice, but critics point out that there are few details about how the party plans to finance these plans. The political alliance takes an explicitly environmentally friendly stance. Their focus is on reducing CO2 emissions through substantial investments in cycling infrastructure and greening public transport. This green agenda is gaining support among a younger demographic, but is also meeting resistance from those who fear higher taxes and costs.

D66 tries to find a middle ground between economic growth and sustainability. They focus on hydrogen as a potential fuel of the future and at the same time want to modernize the existing public transport network. This balanced position may in theory appeal to a broad electorate, but it carries the risk of not focusing enough on one specific area.

smaller parties

While the major parties have their own strong views on mobility, the positions of smaller and emerging parties should not be overlooked as they often offer new and innovative approaches.

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Portrait of Lilian Marijnissen, by Robin de Puy.

De SP emphasizes a more community-oriented approach to mobility. Their focus is on improving local and regional transport services, allowing the party to build a strong support base in smaller communities. However, the lack of attention to national and international connections can be a limiting factor in their mobility vision.

The CDA strives for improved accessibility in less densely populated regions through substantial investments in important railway lines such as the Lower Saxony Line and the Lely Line. In addition, the party advocates financial support for regional public transport projects such as the Maaslijn and the Zwolle-Munster connection. In an unusual move, the party is opposing road pricing in sparsely populated areas, opting for an e-vignette to obtain contributions from foreign motorists for road maintenance.

Forum for Democracy (FVD), for example, makes a bold choice by advocating the abolition of many existing environmental regulations regarding mobility. The party views these regulations as an obstacle to economic growth. This position may resonate with a group of voters who feel frustrated by what they see as over-regulation, but it also raises questions about sustainability and long-term effects on the environment.

De Animal party places a strong emphasis on sustainability and wants to significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels. They advocate investments in alternative, more sustainable forms of transport, such as cycling and public transport. While this vision may appeal to environmentally conscious voters, it risks turning off others who fear too drastic a change in their daily lives.

To avoid these doomsday scenarios, the Mobility Alliance has made a number of concrete proposals. In addition to the extension of the North-South line and the widening of the A4, there are calls for maintaining the ferry ferries that play a vital role in the transport of people over water. All this, says De Jager, requires not only plans, but above all decisiveness from the new cabinet.

De Christian Union sees mobility as a way to promote social cohesion, connecting both local communities and the entire country. They focus on reliable public transport and good road infrastructure as the means to achieve this. Although this approach is less controversial, it lacks a clear vision on environmental issues.

Think wants to make public transport more accessible for the less fortunate and advocates fairer prices. The party also wants more attention to be paid to the transportation needs of minorities and newcomers. This inclusive approach may appeal to a certain niche, but the implementation and financial feasibility remain issues.

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Photo: SGP - Chris Stoffer

Taken together, these parties demonstrate a wide range of approaches, from deregulation and economic growth to social inclusivity and environmental sustainability. Just as the larger parties attract their own specific voter groups, so do these smaller parties, and their influence on the national debate on mobility cannot be ignored. 

De SGP, often seen as conservative and traditional, has a surprisingly pragmatic approach to mobility. They are in favor of well-maintained road infrastructure, but also want to invest in new technologies to improve traffic flow. In this way the party tries to find a balance between modernity and tradition.

As the elections approach, it becomes increasingly important to weigh these diverse views and consider which are most coherent and applicable at a national level. While the focus is often on the larger and better-known parties, the smaller parties also contribute to the versatility of the debate surrounding mobility. Some examples are SGP, 50Plus and BIJ1.

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Photo: JA 21 - Joost Eerdmans - Annabel Nanninga

JA21, a relatively new player, has liberal economic ideas that encourage private entrepreneurship in the mobility sector. They want to open up the market more and reduce bureaucratic barriers, which they believe would lead to more innovation and efficiency.

50Plus emphasizes improving mobility for the elderly. This includes not only public transport, but also special services and facilities for seniors, such as local buses and taxis for the elderly. In an aging society, this focus on the elderly can be an important consideration.

AT1 focuses on creating a more inclusive society and this is reflected in their views on mobility. The party strives for affordable and accessible transport for everyone, with a special focus on vulnerable groups. With this, BIJ1 wants to reduce the mobility gap that is often visible in diverse and unequal societies.

In short, the smaller parties highlight facets of the mobility debate that are sometimes overlooked by the larger parties. They bring up topics like inclusivity, aging and efficiency, adding another layer of complexity to the discussion. In the run-up to the elections, it would be unwise to ignore these parties and their unique approaches.

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