G500 is a brand new grassroots youth movement, which was established in April 2012 in the Netherlands. The goal of G500 is to gather at least 500 young people between 18 and 35, and to jointly apply for the membership of three major political parties; CDA (Cristian Democrats), VVD (Liberal Party) and PvdA (Labour Party). By attending their party conferences, G500 wants to rejuvenate the parties and put 10 issues on the agenda that we believe need urgent reform. The ultimate goal is to create a broad coalition for reform within the political centre, which can serve as a foundation for future governments, and thereby make the Netherlands ready for the future.
Just five days after G500 was launched, 500 people had subscribed. To facilitate the overwhelming interest, the organisers decided to open up for more applications. To facilitate the enormous response received from citizens older than 35, G500+ was established. They will back the youth movement in their ambition to push for sustainable reform and show that there is broad support throughout society.
Why this method?
In the Netherlands, a democratically elected parliament consisting of 150 members representing some eight parties controls the government. Law is implemented based on a majority vote. But the party lines are being decided upon during party conferences, where a relatively small group of people decides upon the agenda of the party, and thus, indirectly, the agenda of parliament. Party members who attend these conferences are aged relatively high, while the representation of youth parties is relatively low. G500 wants to correct that balance, connect generations and push for the reform that is needed to make our country generation-proof.
Why is this necessary?
After World War II, a large generation of baby-boomers was born. Also in the Netherlands. They grew up as their parents rebuilt the country from the rubbles of war. Due to fast economic recovery, the government could implement a solid social security net. Also, everyone would pay premiums to enjoy good healthcare and a (state) pension at a later age. However, rather than saving those premiums until an individual needs healthcare, or reached pension age, the paid premiums of today were used to pay for others who needed healthcare and pension tomorrow. This system works until today.
But now that baby-boom generation is retiring and life expectancy has risen. That large generation that deserves to receive good healthcare and a (state) pension after paying premiums for decades, now has to be supported by the premiums of the younger, much smaller generation. And that is a problem; the generation of elders is rapidly growing, while the working generation that pays premiums is shrinking! Dutch government has known this for decades, but pushed the bill forward.
10 principles for broad reform
G500 adopted 10 principles for broad reform:
- The Netherlands spends less of its GDP on education than, for example, Poland or Estonia. We can only secure to maintain a competitive, economically strong country by offering kids and students great education and invest in research and innovation. An additional 2.5 percent of GDP has to be invested in education and R&D
- A majority of healthcare costs happens during the last five years of one’s life, often at older age. We believe those who can afford to pay healthcare costs, should pay themselves, so that those who cannot afford can rely on the same good healthcare
- The pension system needs to be adapted to the new reality, where people switch jobs frequently. We believe people should have the possibility to choose their own pension fund, so they can decide themselves upon the investment risks being taken with their pension money
- More and more people are self-employed, partly due to a growing entrepreneurial spirit, partly because of the economic crisis. We believe self-employed workers should be able to buy into the same social security as those who work as employees
- Employment regulations were mostly made during the times a worker would stay with the same company for decades. These regulations need an update. Instead of forcing an employee into giving either short-term contracts or, after a few rounds of renewal, an indefinite fixed contract, allow employers and employees to close 3- or 5-year contracts
- The housing market is in gridlock. Starters can hardly buy property due to high prices and strict mortgage regulations, while social housing availability is low and rent prices in the free sector are high. The housing market needs to be reformed in such a way that it becomes easier for starters to find affordable housing, close to where they work
- Our dependency on foreign oil is high. To avoid an increasing dependency on scarcely available oil from unstable regions, we need to aim for using at least 50 percent sustainable sources by 2030
- Since the 1960s, the Netherlands enjoys a significant income from natural gas resources. This income is largely used by the government to pay for healthcare, social security and interest on debt. We suggest to save part of those revenues in a national ‘rainy-day fund’, like in Norway
- There is nothing wrong with responsible lending by the state. By delivering upon the promise to pay back every borrowed euro within 10 years after it was lend, we can keep interest (cost!) low and avoid public debt to be averted to generations to come
- Our constitution dictates that the government is responsible for a fair spread of wealth amongst its people. We find it important to add that this responsibility is not only for current generations, but only for generations to come. In this way we avoid the government to push forward the bill to future generations.
Where does G500 place itself on the political spectrum?
We believe left/right is an old-fashioned way of thinking. We are a young, pragmatic and long-term focused generational movement. The community spreads over nearly all of the political spectrum.
Isn’t this undemocratic?
Currently, there is a vast unbalance in Dutch politics, where are relatively old party members have an overwhelming majority. We want to compensate that imbalance. Although unusual, the G500 method is in line with the law and the party statutes. G500 wants to democratically push for change, and whoever disagrees is free to join the political arena to take upon the discussion. It is the discussion we believe has to take place.
Is G500 a protest movement?
G500 is an initiative to involve young people in politics, restore the current age imbalance and push for necessary reform. We want to unite, not divide.
Why would people join three parties, and not just one?
Because we believe time is running out to implement necessary reform, we aim for the maximum result in the shortest amount of time. We consider the existing party structures as a way to do that.
Why not just start a political party?
The Dutch political landscape is fragmented. Proof of this can be seen in the current government, which could not create a majority coalition and has to seek support from the opposition in everything they want to achieve. For that reason, we believe a new political party would just cause more fragmentation.
Starting a G500 in your country
We have received various inquiries from young people across Europe who also want to start a G500 movement in their country. Everyone is free to do so. We just do not allow others to use our logo, nor do we endorse the specific political goals of these movements. However, in the spirit of international and particularly European cooperation, we are eager to participate in the international debate about the challenges we face as a generation.
Inquiries and media requests can be submitted to G500 through the contact form. Due to a large amount of incoming requests, it might take some time to respond. We do our very best to respond to media inquiries within 24 hours.