Last few weeks to the Dutch election

The Dutch have roughly one month till their election and new government. Their election takes place on the 15th of March. Of the over 80 parties which wanted to take part, twenty-eight made it on the official list.

A few boring facts: the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) has 171 candidates to choose from. A democratic party called VDP has only one candidate. The oldest candidate is 93 and the youngest 16 and both belong to the Dutch “animal rights” party called Partij voor de Dieren – which is not just about animal rights. There are 393 female and 721 male candidates, which compared to 2012 shows a tiny improvement in the number of female candidates.

According to the most recent polls, either Wilders’ PVV party or Prime Minitser Mark Rutte’s VVD party (to the centre-right of Dutch politics) may become the largest party. As most people know, Wilders’ party is a populist extreme right-wing one.”Largest party” will probably mean 17 to 18 percent of the votes and seats in Parliament.

Contrary to what many foreign journalists and Wilders seem to state, getting most votes does not automatically mean he will end up as the next Dutch PM.

Another coalition government is unavoidable. However, nearly all Dutch parties stated well before the election campaigns started, they refuse to form a government with Wilders’ PVV. With such a unanimous front, it seems likely Wilders will remain in opposition.

Any recent scandals? Sure, the minority party DENK was caught using fake accounts on social media to try influence this election by trolling. Contrary to what one may presume, this party has no known ties with Russia. There are strong suspicions the party’s leaders Mr Kuzu and Mr Öztürk may have strong links with Turkish President Erdogan. So far, nobody has been able to proof this.

As for Russia trying to influence this election: the moment it became clear voting software and electronic voting machines were unsafe, unreliable, could be influenced, might get hacked – the Dutch abolished these. The Dutch reverted to using a red pencil and paper ballot paper a while ago.

It was also announced a few weeks ago, Dutch ballot papers will not be counted electronically. All papers will be checked, counted, recounted manually again. The Dutch do not mind if the counting takes days. They are serious about trying to curb hackers and others influencing this election.

What will a new Dutch government look like and when will it start governing the country? It may take weeks. Whichever party gains the most seats will get a chance to appoint a negotiator called “formateur”.He or she will sound out various party candidates for posts in the new, undoubtedly coalition government.

Of course, if the PVV becomes the largest political party it may want to give things a try. But with all the other parties posing a closed front and declaring way before the election they do not fancy co-governing with this party, negotiations will be tough.

Forming a new government using the Dutch “poldering”- having lengthy discussions and negotiations which should somehow lead to a working compromise between various parties – may take weeks, perhaps even months. It would not be the first election resulting in one or two negotiators handing back their brief to a Dutch Queen or King. In the meantime, the land will not be rudderless and left in chaos: the present government will “mind the shop”.

Elections in the Netherlands
Dutch 2017 general election


About Kate

Multilingual arts & culture journalist, blogger, columnist, writer and translator. Contributor to international (news) media. 2014 winning columnist Gentse Schrijversdagen, Gand, Belgium.
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