This week, expats and Dutch citizens across the country went to the polls to have their say in the 2022 municipal elections. Here is a brief overview of what happened.
Historically low participation in the 2022 municipal elections
Polling stations opened at 7:30 a.m. on Monday March 15 for the first of three days of voting in the Netherlands. While local elections generally tend to see a low turnout, the Dutch gemeenteraadsverkiezingen are also open to a large number of expats and internationals living in the Netherlands, resulting in a significantly higher number of eligible voters.
Despite this, however, this year’s elections saw an all-time low turnout, with just 50.3% of people turning up to vote, beating the previous record of 53.8% set in 2014. insider, Hanke Bruis Slot, has announced that they will be investigating the reason for such low turnout.
“For us, it is very important in the analysis to look at: what are the causes of the low turnout,” Bruis Slot said Thursday morning, explaining that it was unclear whether “local circumstances or national issues” were responsible.
Local festivals and new festivals celebrate great victories
This low turnout did not prevent the various local parties from celebrating a successful evening. A number of major Dutch political parties also scored strong victories in different municipalities, but local Dutch political parties were the big winners of the evening, further strengthening their grip on local politics.
Overall, local parties won around 36% of the vote, up from 29% four years ago. De Mos (also known as Hart voor Den Haag) remains The Hague’s largest party. Similarly, in Rotterdam, Leefbaar Rotterdam retained its majority and retained its 11 seats on the city council. In Maastricht, the Senioren Partij overtook the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) to become the largest party in the municipality.
The new parties also had a fairly successful election results night, as BIJ1, JA21 and Volt all claimed seats in a number of municipalities across the country. Despite these victories, however, the new parties did not lead to major changes in the composition of Dutch municipal councils.
Rutte’s VVD remains the largest party in the Netherlands
Some of the biggest parties will also be celebrating on Thursday. After suffering slightly in the 2021 general election, GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver was relieved to see his party’s grip on local politics tightening. “I hardly dare to believe it,” he said. While Groenlinks lost its majority to the Labor Party (PvdA) in the Dutch capital, it increased its number of seats overall and became the largest party in both Tilburg and Leiden.
With 17% of the vote, the PvdA was of course delighted to win the victory in Amsterdam, but the party also won seats in Maastricht, Zwolle and Dordrecht, among others. The Party for the Animals (PvdD) also celebrated a successful evening, receiving many more votes in 2022 than four years ago.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), remains the largest party in the Netherlands, but has lost a limited number of seats. D66 was not disappointed with the final results either, becoming the largest party in Den Bosch, Gouda and Amersfoort, with leader Sigrid Kaag celebrating the party’s “hard-won extra seats”.
Some major Dutch parties are disappointed with the results
On the other hand, some of the major parties were disappointed. Thierry Baudet, leader of the Forum for Democracy (FvD), admitted having “expected a little more” from the results, but said he was satisfied with the performance of the party.
Similarly, if Wopke Hoekstra hastened to say that he was not disappointed by his party’s performance, the CDA nevertheless suffered several blows, losing its majority in various municipalities. Overall, however, the party managed to win seats.
Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) also suffered losses, receiving considerably fewer votes and only winning 61 seats nationally. The Socialist Party (SP) also failed to live up to expectations, as it lost its majority in Oss to a local party and saw its overall share of the vote drop from more than 4% in 2018 at only 2.7%. .