The New Conservatives

Naomi ‘t Hart

Young, highly educated and conservative. European research shows that while this may have been a unique combination in the past, conservatism is growing amongst people born from 1990 onwards. Yesterdays election’s results partly underscore this movement.

The question is: why? Millennials and Gen Z have often grown up with more welfare and education than the generations before them. The internet and globalisation offer endless possibilities to do and be whomever you want. So, what is driving these people’s ideology?

Quita Muis is a sociologist at the Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and was one of the researchers in the European Values Study. ‘The goal of the research was to map out how different generations approach certain topics. The findings of young people being more conservative was just a by-catch. It was not something we expected to find.’

Young people face job insecurity, an unobtainable housing market, financial insecurity and also social insecurity. ‘Something we expect but still need to test is that culturally, society increasingly embraces meritocracy, everything should be possible if you work hard enough. Yet, this meritocratic mindset adds pressure in a time where part-time contracts and house ownership are not a given, no matter how hard you work.’

On the other hand, Muis points out the longing for cultural stability in a world that is rapidly globalising. Everything that feels familiar and trustworthy seems to be changing. ‘This is the aspect that most young conservatives oppose, as they want things to go back to how they were, instead of progressing towards a new normal.’

One of these young conservatives that oppose this progress mentality is Tom de Nooijer (20), council member for the Reformed Political Party (SGP) in Oldebroek. De Nooijer grew up in a Christian family with parents who vote for the Christian Democrats (CDA). He decided to become a member of the SGP due to its more conservative nature. Yet, he also admires the conservative populist party Forum for Democracy for their hard stance on the EU, climate change and migration. ‘The commonality between conservative parties is the approach we have towards the current zeitgeist. We all feel that everything of value is slipping through our fingers.’

With the election results in, FvD has won eight seats in parliament, SGP has kept their three seats, while the more moderate CDA has lost four seats in parliament, going from 19 to 15 seats. Figures show that 40% of FvD voters and 30% of SGP voters are under 35, whereas CDA has the oldest voter mandate of all parties in this election.

Yet, not just young voters have chosen to shift towards more rightwing, conservative parties, as the left, progressive parties have suffered major losses across the board. The big winners of this election are the moderates of D66, the liberals of VVD and to a lesser degree the conservative FvD.

In the weeks after the elections, the reasons for voting will crystallise further, one thing is clear: the Netherlands is not the progressive country they claim to be. The younger generations are turning towards more conservative, right-wing parties with the hope that they will bring stability and security. But, with the fast pace of the world only increasing, time will tell where they lead the country. If it is up to the young conservatives, they will lead us towards ordered and consistent times with a strong emphasis on cultural stability.