On March 15, 2017, the Dutch public went to the ballot to elect the 150 seats in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer).
In this report, the political behavior of the electorate and the election results will be presented.
1. Important Statistics
Number of Eligible Voters: 12.893.466
- Expat eligible voters: 80.660
- Number of votes needed for a seat: 70.1062
- Eligible voters who partook in the election: 10.563.456 (%81.9)
- Voter turnout (%81.9) is the highest since 1986.
- Voter turnout in 2012 was %74.6 (9.462.223)
- 15,876 voter (%0.15) cast empty ballots
- 31.539 votes (%0.3) were deemed invalid
The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) under the leadership of Prime Minister Mark Rutte won the elections. However, despite coming in first place, the party suffered a great loss in votes. While receiving 41 out of 150 seats in the previous election, the VVD were only able to protect 33 (21.3%) of those seats in the House of Representatives.
Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom Party (PVV) came second with 20 seats, amounting to 13.1% of the votes, increasing its seat number from 15 to 20. The Christian Democratic Party (CDA) came third with 12.4% of the votes followed by the Democrats ’66 with 12.2% of the votes. The Green Left (GL) and the Socialist Party (SP) followed with 14 seats and 9.1% of votes. From this result, it can be stated that the Green Left, which previously had four seats emerged victoriously.
The DENK party, which was formed by Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk who were expelled from the Labour Party (PvdA) in 2014, also displayed a big surprise by obtaining three seats and 2.1% of the votes.
The Labour Party (PvdA), suffered a loss in votes after losing the support of many immigrants. While a coalition partner in the previous government with 38 seats, the center-left party was only able to field 9 seats this election with 5.7% of the votes.
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3. DENK Party
In 2014, Labour Party MPs Tunahan Kuzu ve Selçuk Öztürk were expelled for not giving a vote of confidence to their party’s integration policy. Upon this, they established the DENK party in 2015 and were able to make it into Parliament in their first election by winning three seats. In Schiedam, DENK received 8.2% of the votes; Rotterdam 7.9%; the Hague 7.3%; Amsterdam 6.9% and Leerdam 6.7%.
Ethnic Origins: Out of 150 MPs, seven (4.7%) are Turkish-origin while nine (6%) are Moroccan-origin. When we look at the percentage of Turkish-Dutch and Morrocan-Dutch, this representation does not seem far-fetched. While Turkis-originated Dutch make up 2.34% of the population, 2.27% is of Moroccan origin. Additionally, no other non-Western immigrant was able to make it into Parliament.
Gender: 36% of the elected MPs are women. This means that there will be 54 women MPs. In 2012, it was 39% while in 2010 it was 42%. Additionally, with 60% of its MPS women, the Animals’ Rights Party has the largest ratio of woman representatives.
Age: The youngest is 25-year-old Rens Reamakers from D66. The oldest MP is Martin van Rooijen from +50.
Education: 82% of the MPs are university graduates. A large number of these have an educational background in law, politics or economics.
The crisis between Turkey and the Netherlands directly affected the political behavior of 26% of the electorate. More specifically, it was the PVV and VVD voters were critically steered. 41% of voters stated that this ordeal did not affect their decision.
4. The Labour Party’s Loss of Votes
80% of the 2012 constituents of the Labor Party voted for another party in 2017. The Labour Party, which lost 29 seats in the 2017 election, gave up most of its seats to the Green Left Party. 47% of 2012 Labour voters cast their votes to the Green Left on March 15.
The people of Netherlands voted for the stability on Wednesday. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party, VVD, had a clear victory against the rising tide of populism encapsulating the Western world. After the election, Rutte declared “‘Whoa!’ to the wrong kind of populism” and added, “We want to stick to the course we have — safe and stable and prosperous”. With Brexit and Trump’s victory in the past year, the Dutch election campaign was dominated by the specter of looming far-right populism, manifested through Geert Wilders.
5. Wilders and PVV
Populist candidate Geert Wilders’ party PVV got 20 seats, coming in second place after VVD. Nonetheless, this number was far below opinion polls that put the PVV’s seat chances at 31 at one point. The populist party increased its number in Dutch Parliament. Wilders iterated his happiness with the result, thanking his voters.
6. Other Parties
The coalition member PvdA was the biggest loser, receiving its greatest defeat. The party lost 29 seats and only won 9 seats.
The real winner of the elections was GroenLinks. They tripled their seats, adding 14 MPs. Jesse Klaver, the youngest party leader in the election, said, “My message to the world would be: We stopped populism here in the Netherlands.” adding that coalition negotiations will be difficult.
CDA and Democrats66 won 19 seats each, coming in third place. Both of increased their portion in the pie of Parliament.
Additionally, the turnout rate was the highest in 30 years. 80.4% of eligible voters turned out for the election.
Furthermore, CU and SGP won 5 seats, 50+ won 4, and pvdD won 5, the best result in the party’s history.
DENK, running on a platform of pro-immigration, multiculturalism, and anti-discrimination won 3 seats in its first House of Representatives election. The party’s constituents are mostly from the Turkish and Moroccan communities.
Another populist anti-EU party, Forum for Democracy, won 2 seats, recording no change since the 2012 general election.
7. European Leaders
European leaders positively interpreted the results of the election. German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Mark Rutte, stating, “The Netherlands is our partners, friends, neighbors. Therefore I was very happy that a high turnout led to a very pro-European result, a clear signal,” and added, “It was a good day for democracy.”
French President François Hollande is also happy with the results. Hollande said, “The values of openness, respect for others and a faith in Europe’s future are the only true response to the nationalist impulses and isolationism that are shaking the world.”