The Dutch have brought another victory to the Freedom and Democracy Party (VVD, center right) of current Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is expected to return to lead a ruling coalition. In a context largely shaped by the pandemic and its social and economic impact, the centrist political forces were the big winners of the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands, but the far right parties increased their representation.
With 63% of the votes counted, according to Reuters, the VVD seems to have secured 36 seats in parliament out of 150 members, which corresponds to the expectations of the polls and represents a strengthening of the party’s parliamentary strength.
Rutte, who has been in power for a decade, thanked the electorate for the “overwhelming vote of confidence” that will enable him to be the longest-serving head of the Dutch government. The prime minister acknowledged that “everything has not gone well in the last ten years” but guaranteed that he has “another ten years of energy”.
“The main topic for the next few years is rebuilding the country from the coronavirus,” said Rutte.
The elections were brought forward after the government resigned in January after a scandal surrounding the denial of family allowances to 26,000 candidates with “foreign surnames” surfaced.
The big surprise of election night was the good result of the D66, a progressive and European liberal party, which took second place and managed to elect 24 MPs in 2017, five more than in the last election. The performance was celebrated by the party leader Sigrid Kaag with a dance on the table. The result is “a great responsibility”.
The D66 succeeds in dethroning the Christian Democratic Alliance (CDA) as the second most powerful partner in the future government coalition. The Christian Democrats lost five seats in parliament under the current finance minister, Wopke Hoekstra.
The partial results suggest that a coalition between the three most elected parties does not have enough MPs to guarantee a parliamentary majority, which forces negotiations with smaller formations. History shows that this period can take several months – in 2017 it took 208 days to form a manager.
The Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV, far right) was punished in the elections and lost three places. However, this political family has never been so well represented in the Dutch parliament. The Democracy Forum, another extremist formation, secured eight MPs and another newly formed party, JA21, elected four. The opposition of these parties to the containment measures, which led to violent demonstrations earlier in the year, may have been one of the success factors.
The left-wing parties were punished the most, as they were not supposed to have more than 25 seats in parliament. PvdA workers maintained a group of nine MPs, but the Socialist Party and the Green Left were cut in half. “The Netherlands voted and it was not the left,” admitted socialist leader Lilian Marijnisse.
The first parliamentary elections in the European Union since the pandemic began took place over three days due to health containment measures. In the first two cases, voting was reserved for the population at risk, the elderly and the sick.