Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his right-wing liberal party VVD clearly won the parliamentary elections. According to a forecast by the television station NOS on Wednesday evening, the VVD will be by far the strongest force in the Second Chamber of Parliament with around 23 percent and 36 out of a total of 150 seats. Rutte, who has been in office for over ten years, could become head of government for the fourth time.
While Rutte’s victory had been predicted, the runner-up came in for a big surprise: Here the left-liberal and particularly Europe-friendly D66 prevailed by a wide margin. According to the forecast, she won 27 mandates, eight more than before. In the first comments, this was attributed to the popular top candidate Sigrid Kaag, among others. The Foreign Trade Minister worked for the United Nations for many years and speaks six languages. She is considered a new star in Dutch politics.
Right-wing populist Wilders only ranks third
The anti-Islam party PVV of right-wing populist Geert Wilders, which had been in second place in the polls for weeks, had to be content with third place. She lost three seats in parliament. Another right-wing populist party, the FvD of the nationalist Thierry Baudet, won five seats and now has a total of seven. A spin-off from the FvD, JA21, moves into parliament with three members, so that the bottom line is that the right-wing populists will emerge stronger from the election.
Christian Democrats, Greens and Socialists fared significantly worse than four years ago. The Social Democrats, who were still the strongest political force in the Netherlands in the 1990s, stabilized at the low level of nine seats. In addition to the 13 parties that were already represented in parliament, the forecast suggests that four more parties will move into the second chamber, so that 17 parties will be represented there in the future. There is no five percent hurdle in the Netherlands. Despite Corona, the turnout was 82 percent, as it was four years ago.
According to surveys, important topics for voters were the state of the health and care system, the increased rents and prices for condominiums, the climate and the environment, and the fight against corona. In order to ensure more distance due to Corona, the Dutch set up polling stations in unusual places, for example in churches, museums and even in a cemetery building and a former prison.
Difficult coalition negotiations expected
The Netherlands has been in lockdown since mid-December. There has also been a curfew since the end of January. More than 16,000 people have died from Covid-19 and infection rates have been high for weeks. But despite regular demonstrations, a majority of citizens still support the government’s corona policy.
Coalition negotiations in the Netherlands have traditionally been long and complicated. This time there could even be five parties involved. But Rutte insists that things have to go faster this time: “I hope that Corona makes everyone aware that we have to have something quickly,” he said.
The latest big affair over child benefits played only a marginal role. For years, the tax authorities had wrongly portrayed tens of thousands of parents as fraudsters. They each had to pay tens of thousands of euros. Because of the affair, the Rutte government resigned in January and has only been in office since then. (apa)