It is so easy to get sucked into our own coalition building process that we forgot that other people are having elections too. Coverage of the Dutch election result -in so far as it has had any coverage in the UK media-has dwelt on the increase vote of the extreme anti Islamic party of Geert Wilders. If you dig a little deeper there are encouraging signs for left/social liberal in the performance of the D66 party.
Whilst on the canals with the disgruntled radical last month we got to discussing all the disputes of the 1970/80's involving the Giscardians. With direct elections to the European parliament pan european alliances were being formed. For the British Conservatives this was and continues to be a fraught issue. Broadly Liberals had an easier time. Nevertheless there were parties who clearly part of the social liberal family who who many of us were keen to bring on board. Chief amongst these were D66 in the Netherlands and the Italian Republican Party and the Italian Radicals.
This had been mirrored at a student/youth level with the formation of Lymec in 1976 at whose founding congress I was a UK delegate. I noticed on their website that they are holding a meeting in Liverpool this year.
Anyway of all the groups we met in that period the ones with whom we felt most at home with were D66 whose website- thanks to the wonders of Google translation-I've been checking out. As part of the moves to get D66 admitted to the European group the YL's organised a fringe meeting at a Party Assembly-I guess it was Brighton in 1977. Radical Youth for Europe-of which I was chair at the time-invited Laurens Jan Brinkhorst to speak along side Richard Wainwright.
Scroll forward to today and D66 are full members of the ELDR group in the European Parliament and of Liberal International. Brinkhorst went on to be deputy Prime Minister. In the most recent election earlier this month D66 recovered a fair bit of ground and may possibly be in the next government along side the bigger VDD (conservative liberals) as part of a broader 'purple coalition' including the Labour party and possibly the 'left greens'.