De nabijheidspolitiek van Harm Smeenge, 1886-1935 | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 134 Number 4
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



Local political ties and direct interactions between representatives and represented have long been, and often still are, portrayed in the Netherlands as characteristics of an archaic politics of notability. In this article the concept of ‘proximity politics’ is introduced in order to reconsider this type of representative relations. The politics and underlying beliefs of liberal representative Harm Smeenge are interpreted as an example of local proximity politics. Newspaper articles, the Proceedings of the States General, political pamphlets, and letters are analyzed to show how this style of political representation was put into practice in Dutch politics around 1900. This article shows how local proximity politics could be conducted within the traditional liberal frameworks of political representation, in which the importance of distance is usually stressed. It explores the question of how common this style of political representation was, with regard also to other political-ideological traditions and on the municipal level: can we we discern a tradition of local proximity politics? And how would such a tradition have been affected by the abolishment of the majoritarian system of electoral districts, and the introduction of proportional representation in 1918?


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