Final provisional results from yesterday’s Netherlands’ lower house election are now in after the last constituencies declared earlier today. Descriptions of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ are relative concepts in such a fragmented outcome with the largest party gaining only one fifth of the votes and seats, and the next five finishers all within four percentage points of each other. Much of the near-hysterical media reporting during and after the contest bears scant relation to the final statistics themselves.
PM Mark Rutte’s VVD outperformed the final opinion polls to finish with 33 seats. However this was a heavily qualified ‘victory’, which incorporated the loss of around a quarter of VVD’s 2012 votes and eight Tweede Kamer seats. The ‘defeated’ PVV of right-wing populist Geert Wilders narrowly held second place from the CDA and D66: at the same time Wilders’ increased his seat tally by one third to 20, and added nearly three percentage points on the popular vote share.
Very little was written or discussed in advance about the third-placed Christian Democrats (CDA) as commentators obsessed themselves with the Wilders-Rutte contest and the rise of the Green Left (GL). The CDA’s quiet rise to third enabled it to add six seats. Equally little was said about the Socialists (SP) who suffered only minor vote losses and retreated just one seat despite the new competition on the Left.
Social liberal D66 were rightly predicted by the later polls as chasing closely behind the PVV and duly finished level with the CDA on 19 seats. As for GroenLinks, its final share of votes was overestimated on average by the pollsters, and while its advance in seats from four to 14 was proportionately the greatest of the main parties, it narrowly finished sixth in the race.
Belatedly, some media coverage of the result did focus on the castastrophic collapse of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA), so long a major force in the country. The PvdA’s loss of four-fifths of its support and a record 29 seats was what essentially helped so many others enjoy a satsifying election outcome. The final vote share chart below conveys strikingly the scale of this collapse.
After a difficult campaign the 50Plus pensioners’ party, which had been projected at up to 11 seats in January polling, had to settle for just four, but still a doubling of its group. The animal welfare party, PvdD put on an impressive showing for such a niche grouping, advancing from 2 to 5 seats.
Brand new parties Denk, a leftist group aiming for ethnic minority support, and the Forum for Democracy (FvD), a right-wing populist group, can both be happy with the way they opened their parliamentary accounts by gaining three and two seats respectively.
One positive consequence of the intense interest in the election result was an increase in turnout by around seven percentage points over the 2012 poll. The arduous process of coalition building, which will require a minimum of four parties to achieve a parliamentary majority, now begins.
VOTES IN PER CENT (change on 2012)
Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD, Centre right) 21.2 (-5.3)
Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV, Freedom Party) 13.0 (+2.9)
Christen-Democratisch Appel (CDA, Christian Democrats) 12.4 (+3.9)
Democraten 66 (D66, Social liberals) 12.2 (+4.2)
Socialistische Partij (SP, Socialist Party) 9.1 (-0.5)
GroenLinks (GL, Green Left) 9.1 (+6.8)
Partij van der Arbeid (PvdA, Labour Party) 5.7 (-19.1)
ChristenUnie (CU, Christian Union) 3.4 (+0.3)
Partij voor de Dieren (PvdD, Animal welfare party) 3.2 (+1.3)
50Plus (Pensioners’ party) 3.1 (+1.2)
Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP, Christian party) 2.1 (nc)
Denk (Ethnic minority party) 2.0 (n/a)
Forum voor Democratie (FvD, right-wing populist) 1.8 (n/a)
Others 1.7 (+1.4)
SEATS IN TWEEDE KAMER (change on 2012)
VVD 33 (-8)
PVV 20 (+5)
CDA 19 (+6)
D66 19 (+7)
SP 14 (-1)
GL 14 (+10)
PvdA 9 (-29)
CU 5 (nc)
PvdD 5 (+3)
50Plus 4 (+2)
SGP 3 (nc)
Denk 3 (+3)
FvD 2 (+2)
Other 0 (nc)
TOTAL 150 seats
2017: 81.4 per cent
2012: 74.6 per cent
FOLLOW EPR on Twitter here.
SHARE this article: