Yesterday was election day. The media coverage in both national and international media has been big, because of different factors. But mostly about the anti-Europe and anti-middle east sentiment. But there was so much more taking into account this election and I wanted to take this blogpost to tell you a bit more about the Dutch General Election, our systeem and the results.
You may have heard about the diplomatic fight between the Netherlands and Turkey the last few days or our own far right populist Geert Wilders – who can be seen as the equivalent of Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and many others. But the elections were much more than that. Much more than just those select few people I’ve named. Let’s first take a look at our political system.
We are a constitutional monarchy, which simply means we have a monarch as head of our state. It’s the king at the moment and his function within the state here is quite ceremonial. His only power is to agree or disagree to new laws, but in real life he never discards a law design as it leaves the two chambers. Also, he plays a minor role in setting up the government.
The chambers are quite similar to the British system. We have the so called ‘Eerste Kamer’ and “Tweede Kamer’. You can compare them to the House of Lords and House of Commons in a way. Hold your horses with anger, I say you CAN compare them in some ways, I don’t say it is the same.
The ‘Tweede Kamer’ (second chamber) is chosen by the people (General elections) and the ‘Eerste Kamer’ (first chamber) is chosen by the elected members of the provincial parliaments. (I will also come back to that later). The ‘Eerste Kamer’ has got 75 members and the ‘Tweede Kamer’ has got 150 members, which leads to total of 225 which is called parliament.
Well this may seem something very familiar to this point, but here comes the different thing. At this moment we’ve got 14 parties in the Tweede Kamer. We are so fragmented in opinion that we have all these parties. A lot of them have merged together as well. This leaves you with enough choice to vote for the party that suits you the best and don’t have to make radical choices because you don’t agree with one point. One the other hand, it’s also very hard to make certain decisions. For example there’s always a coalition government. In fact this time we had a coalition of two parties until yesterday and that is considered a big risk. It’s normal for Dutch standards to have a coalition of three parties or more.
The ideology of the parties can be best rated as going from Right to Left, I think. If you want to know which has my preference let me know and we can chat about that. But the parties all have different ideas and sometimes they are more categorised in the progressive-conservative spectrum.
Dutch General Election
In the Netherlands you got three moments where you can choose your government. It’s your local government – city counselors, provincial government or ‘the’ government. Yesterday we voted for the general elections and that’s the kind of election that will determine national parliament.
The Second Chamber is composed of 150 seats elected by proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency. When voting you can cast your vote for any person on the list and in the 2017 elections, there were over 900 candidates on that list. There were 28 different parties participating in the general elections:
- VVD / People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy
- PvdA/ Labour Party
- PVV / Party for Freedom
- SP / Socialist Party
- CDA / Christian Democratic Appeal
- D66 / Democrats ’66
- CU / Christian Union
- Groen links / Green left
- SGP / Reformed Political Party
- PvdD / Party for the Animals
- OP / Entrepreneurs Party
- VoorNederland / For Netherlands
- DENK / Think
- Nieuwe Wegen / New ways
- Forum voor Democratie / Forum for Democracy
- DBB / Civil movement
- VP /Free Thinking Party
- Piraten partij / Pirate Party
- Artikel 1
- Niet Stemmers / Non-voters
- Libertarische partij / Libertarian party
- Lokaal in de kamer
- Jezus leeft
- Party for Human Spirit
- Vrije Democratische partij / free democratic party
As it stands the 150 seats are divided as standing above, and here’s a little correction:
VVD (right): 33
PVV (far right): 20
SP (hard left): 14
CDA(centre right, religious): 19
D66 (centre): 19
GL (left) : 14
CU (conservative religious): 5
SGP (very conservative and hardcore religious): 3
FVD (right): 2
PVDD (left progressive): 5
DENK (right): 3
50PLUS (conservative): 4
Because of the percentages, there’s one seat to be given to another party to make it a total of 150. Which party gets it, is not clear.
It’s become a victory for right wing. Which seems to be the case in other countries as well, it was a battle between mainstream right and extreme right. This is not only because of the changing world, but also because the left wing parties have failed to propose good solutions or alternatives. As you can see, there’s only two parties left with over 10 seats, the rest is very small. For the coming years left has to reorganise to be a worthy opponent in the next elections.
Rutte’s VVD has remained the largest, although they lost 8 seats in the house. Wilders’ PVV has become bigger and has become the second largest party in the nation and I guess that reflects the sentiment in the Netherlands at the moment. It’s very right win minded and a lot of people have voted for regular right VVD, to make sure PVV didn’t get to power.
A lot of people ask if Wilders’ can get in the government and the answer is no. We need a coalition because we need the majority to govern. You need at least 76 seats and all parties have declared that they don’t want to be in a coalition with Wilders’ PVV. But this is politics and promises mean nothing in election time, so we’ll see how it turns out, but it’s unlikely that he will govern.
At this point VVD is the biggest and has the first right to form a government. There has been a lot of talking and it seems that they are reaching out to the CDA and D66 to form a government. But this will leave them short of majority, so they are looking for a 4th party, which could prove to be difficult. It could be Christian Union with 5 seats or – a long shot – upcoming left wing GroenLinks. It’s not clear at this point, but the game of forming a cabinet is starting next week. Then the official results will be known.
What is clear, is that left has to reorganise. The labour party PVDA lost 29 seats (!), that is just shambolic to be honest. That the left has failed to provide a decent alternative to right or solution, makes the voters wanting to vote right. But they also have no choice.
If you want to have more graphics, visit this website: