2019 Dutch Provincial and Senate elections

On March 20th 2019 elections were held for the Provincial parliaments which are the legislative assembly in each of the 12 provinces. They have responsibility for matters such as energy, climate, regional infrastructure and regional economy. The elections directly determine the members of the Senate (75 seats). The members of the Senate will be elected by the elected members of the 12 States-Provincial, on 27 May 2019.

Forum for Democracy (FvD) were the big winners of the 2019 provincial elections. FvD is a new (established in 2016) conservative, right wing political party. Currently, the party has only 2 seats (out of 150) in the Second Chamber of the House of Parliament, which is the most important political institution. However in the Senate (through which all legislation that is approved by the Second Chamber has to pass), the party will most likely get 13 seats out of 75 following these election results. They were not previously represented in the Senate as they are a new party. With 13 seats, FvD will at once become the biggest party in the Senate with more votes in Wednesdays elections than the VVD, the conservative liberal party of the prime minister, Mark Rutte. FvD recently signed a pact with the ECR group in the EP and is expected to elect 3 or 4 MEPs.

The Dutch coalition (VVD, CDA, D66 and CU) will lose the majority in the Senate The VVD lost 1 seat (from 13 to 12 seats). CDA (Christian Democrats) lost 3 seats and drop from 12 to 9 seats, the liberal democrats of D66 dropped from 10 to 6 seats and CU (the Christian Union) was the only winner in the coalition with one extra seat (from 3 to 4 seats). With this result the coalition only has 31 of the 75 seats in the Senate and will lose their majority after the indirect elections in May 2019. The consequence of this is that the coalition might have trouble passing legislation through the Senate and will need to find opposition partners to get to (at least) 38 seats in the Senate.  The most likely partner  will be GreenLeft (GroenLinks). The party won 5 additional seats (from 4 to 9) and can give the coalition the majority that they need. The coalition is expected to look to GreenLeft or the Labour Party (the PvdA, 7 seats) for support. Prime minister Rutte already stated that losing the majority is not a new issue, but for him it means “drinking a lot more cups of coffee” with other parties, like GreenLeft, the Labour Party and possibly also FvD. Leaning to the left means even more electoral vulnerability for the governing VVD towards right wing FvD. Making deals with FvD will probably be electorally unacceptable for more leftwards orientated coalition parties CU and D66.

Topics in the elections

Although FvD opposes the European Union and campaigns for a referendum on Dutch EU membership, this was not a theme in the provincial elections. FvD played the issue down in reaction to the chaotic Brexit process in the UK. The current elections were highly focused on the topics of climate and integration

In the Netherlands, a big debate is going on about climate measures. This month the coalition decided to introduce a carbon tax for companies. The measures were framed as being to the ‘left’. FvD, a rightwing party, denies the human impact on climate change. Research shows that voters changed their mind over the past weeks in the aftermath of the climate debate, and it is thought that this could explain the shift in voting.

The result of the elections should not be seen as an anti-EU vote. The membership of the EU is not on the current political agenda , the FvD have played their Nexit issue down and Eurosceptical parties, the Socialist Party (SP) and PVV lost seats.

It is worth remembering that the current governing coalition took a record 208 days to form after inconclusive elections on 15 March 2017. Prime Minister Mark Rutte from the Liberal VVD heads his 3rd ruling coalition but it took nearly 7 months to negotiate. He put together a 4-party coalition with the more progressive Liberals (D66), the centre-right CDA (who sit with the EPP) and more conservative Christian Union (whose 1 MEP sits in the ECR group). This gives the government a precarious one seat majority in the fragmented 13-party parliament. Rutte had previously governed with the Labour party (PvdA) but they suffered heavy losses in the 2017 elections.

Following the departure of the 73 British MEPs, the Netherlands has gained 3 extra MEPs for the 2019 elections.

EPP (5 MEPs)

Esther de Lange will head the CDA party list again. Sitting MEPs Jeroen Lenaers and Annie…

S&D (3 MEPs)

Frans Timmermans, the S&D Spitzenkandidat, will top the list, pushing current PvdA leader…

ECR (2 MEPs)

The new far-right populist party,  Forum for Democracy (FvD), led by Thierry Baudet,…

ALDE (7 MEPs)

VVD ( 3 MEPs) Malik Azmani will head the list. He has been a MP since 2010 and is…

GUE (3 MEPs)

Denis de Jong has been SP party leader since 2009 but will not stand again in 2014 and…

GREENS (2 MEPs)

Bas Eickhout will head the list for the GroenLinks. He is also a candidate to be the…

ENF (4 MEPs)

The PVV have still to announce their list. Marcel de Graaff is the current leader in the…

Other

A new populist movement, Forum for Democracy (FvD) has said it wants to take part in the…

"Nederland en Europa horen bij elkaar. Onze welvaart, veiligheid en vooruitgang zijn afhankelijk van een sterke EU.

We zien bij de Brexit wat voor doorslaand succes het is om uit de Unie te stappen. Maar niet heus."

-Sophie in 't Veld bij #WNLopZondag

Nog 31 dagen tot #EP2019!

"Wij zijn de meest uitgesproken partij vóór Europa.

De vorige keer ging slechts 18% van de jongeren stemmen. Als je gelooft dat je grote uitdagingen als klimaatverandering samen oplost, kies je D66."

-Rob Jetten bij #WNLopZondag

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