Dutch social democrats were very involved in the debate over the colonization of land reclaimed from the Zuiderzee in the interwar years, despite the fact that socialist parties throughout Europe tended to focus their attention on urban rather than rural areas and the voters that lived there. This article argues that the involvement of the Dutch left arose out of internal tensions over the party’s position vis-à-vis the nation’s rural population. Social democrats’ political visions were hard to sell in the countryside, and the party lacked the institutional power to implement them. It was this context that made the reclamation project so vital an opportunity to seize on: a “clean slate” for social democrats to introduce their own agricultural reforms and prove their viability.

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