Mannen gaan vóór | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 20, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1388-3186
  • E-ISSN: 2352-2437



A hundred years ago, Dutch men won the fight for the vote. This revision of the constitution was a product of ‘pacification’ – a deal between confessional and liberal and social democratic parties. In historiography, the arrangement of women’s suffrage in 1917 is seen as, at best, a much less interesting historic fact than this victory of men. The new constitution granted women the right to be candidates, but women, of all classes, had to wait until men would grant them the right to actively vote themselves. This essay sheds light on the last years of the struggle for women’s suffrage by exploring the adventures of the association ‘De Neutrale Vereeniging voor Vrouwenkiesrecht’ (The Neutral Association for Women’s Suffrage). The leaders of this association left the large ‘Vereeniging voor Vrouwenkiesrecht’ (Association for Women’s Suffrage). According to Wilhelmina Drucker, one of the leaders of ‘De Neutrale’ and the most outspoken advocate of the purity of equal rights claim, the 1917 arrangement was a victory of the male sex, and not a class victory. In the course of events, the majority of ‘De Neutrale’ also resigned to the promise of a vote in the future. The political establishment watched over the hegemonic privilege of men as long as possible.

Exploration of this ‘small history’ in the long history of citizens’ political rights sheds light on the problematic relation between gender and citizenship until the very end of the struggle for the vote. It highlights the clash in the women’s suffrage movement between a radical minority and the realistic majority and the difficult relationship between the idea of equal rights for all citizens as a core democratic principle, and the force of day to day power politics of political parties.


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