The Dutch General Election has taken place in amidst one of the most anticipated elections in the Netherlands’ history. In one of the first major European elections of 2017, Dutch citizens their House of Representatives yesterday. Read about the results and implications here!
In 2016, Brexit and Donald Trump shocked pundits and experts the world over. With Geert Wilders’ anti-immigrant Partij Voor Vrijheid (Party For Freedom, or PVV) performing well in the polls, the Dutch general election is regarded as something of a litmus test to see if right-wing populism is actually in resurgence. In what is becoming something of a trend, both polls and experts have been inaccurate.
Dutch General Election Results
Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Demokratie (VVD):
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right VVD was already the largest party in the Netherlands prior to the election. Despite polls showing them lagging behind PVV, they have retained their position winning 33 seats out of 150. Whilst their showing was stronger than expected, they still won eight fewer seats than the last election. The party has shifted further rightwards in recent months, in particular in regards to the issue of immigration, in an attempt to win over voters from the PVV. The VVD is expected to form a coalition, though it remains to be seen with whom.
Partij voor Vrijheid (PVV):
Despite being one of the most talked about and controversial political parties on the ballot, Geert Wilders’ PVV did not perform as well as expected. Running on a platform of ‘de-Islamification’, the party won 20 seats. Despite not being the result they would have hoped for, they still are the second biggest party at the moment. However, due to their unpopularity with the other parties, they are unlikely to be able to form a coalition, which may lead them to political isolation.
Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA):
The Dutch Labor Party are arguably the biggest losers this election, dropping from 38 seats to just 9. Whilst the PVV may not have won as many seats as strongly as expected, the even poorer showing by left-wing parties in this election does indicate that resistance to right-wing sentiment is fragmented, thereby allowing a foothold for right-wing parties. The centrist Christian Democratic Union and left-wing Democrats 66 received 19 seats each, an increase of 6 and 7 seats respectively. This also puts them only one seat behind the PVV. Furthermore, the leftist Socialist and Green Party won 14 seats each.
With 28 political parties on the ballot, the Dutch political landscape is complicated. There are numerous smaller parties that won seats in the House as well, and it remains to be seen what will come of coalition talks.
With 82% of the electorate turning up to vote, the turnout is the highest since the 1981 General Election. By comparison, the 2012 and 2010 elections only had a 75% voter turnout. The importance of this election, and the amount of media coverage it received, likely resulted in this high voter turnout. It has been suggested that the high turnout has helped keep far-right parties at bay. For Euroskeptics, it could be a crushing blow while it is certainly a boon for supporters of the EU.
Regardless the impact that the Dutch general election may have in the future, one thing is clear: It is a hugely positive turnout. The Netherlands still holds its elections offline, with most ballots cast with a red pen and paper ballot. To learn more about the Dutch electoral system, read our last blog post.