Dutch voters will go to polls on Wednesday in a general election that will bring in the Netherlands first new prime minister in thirteen years. Four parties, ranging from the far left to the far right, are competing to become the largest in parliament. The election is expected to be quite close.
In elections that could set the Netherlands on a different path after Mark Rutte’s four consecutive governments, more than thirteen million voters will cast their ballots between the hours of seven thirty in the morning and nine o’clock in the evening. These elections will take place from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam to the islands of the Dutch Caribbean.
With the most recent polls indicating an increase in support for Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), the last days of campaigning have been marked by talk concerning tactical voting and possible coalition arrangements. Other topics that have been discussed include probable coalition arrangements.
Dilan Yeşilgoz-Zegerius, the head of the liberal People’s Party for Freedom & Democracy (VVD), has broken with tradition by stating that she would collaborate with Wilders if her party received the most votes. However, on Tuesday, she stated that she would not support Wilders for the position of prime minister if he won the highest percentage of the vote.
According to what she said to Dutch radio, “I don’t see that happening.” A leader who is capable of bringing the country together is what the Netherlands is seeking for… Who represents the Dutch people as a whole and who has the ability to steer our nation overseas? Moreover, I do not believe that Mr. Wilders is capable of constructing a majority.
Yeşilgoz-Zegerius, a former refugee who advocates for more stringent guidelines regarding migration, has the potential to become the first female prime minister of the Netherlands if the VVD is awarded victory.
Frans Timmermans, a former heavyweight in the European Union who has returned to the Netherlands to lead a GreenLeft/Labour alliance, has made a plea to voters to prevent a government that includes members of the far right from being elected through the electoral process. Research conducted by EenVandaag indicates that it appears to be having an effect, as nearly half of his fans voted strategically for him rather than for minor parties.
In addition, Pieter Omtzigt, the leader of the New Social Contract (NSC), a new center-right party that is advocating for improved government and more restricted immigration, has stated that he will not participate in a coalition that includes Wilders’ party.
EenVandaag’s most recent survey revealed that the PVV had gained ten seats, bringing the total number of seats to 27 out of a total of 150. This puts Wilders in close proximity to the VVD, which has 29 seats. A “stop” on immigration, as well as a prohibition on Islamic schools, mosques, and the Qur’an, are all included in the manifesto of the PVV. A disagreement on refugee seekers led to the collapse of the previous government in July.
There are 26 parties in the Netherlands that are standing on critical issues such as housing, immigration, guaranteeing a basic quality of living, and the climate problem. This election will completely change the political landscape in the Netherlands, regardless of the outcome.
Léonie de Jonge, an assistant professor in European politics and society at Groningen University, stated that “the two things we can expect are that we will no longer have any ‘big’ parties left – good luck finding a majority – and high volatility, which makes it extremely difficult to make any kind of predictions about the outcome.” Both of these things are expected to occur.
“The fact that it was a close battle between four parties meant that both a right-wing coalition and a left-center-right coalition with Timmermans were possible,” said Tom Louwerse, an associate professor at institute of political science at Leiden University and the person who operates a poll averaging site.
Despite the fact that the VVD is currently in the lead in the polls, the PVV, GreenLeft/Labor, and Omtzigt’s NSC are all in close pursuit of it.
“Over the course of the past week, we have witnessed a significant amount of movement, with the PVV gaining ground and the NSC losing ground,” stated Louwerse. In spite of this, each of these groups is on somewhere between 12 and 19 percent, which is a clear indication of the significant degree of fragmentation that exists.
The mistrust that people have in the government is another significant problem. Tom van der Meer, a professor of political science at Amsterdam University, refers to this mistrust as a “crisis of trustworthiness” because it is the result of a number of scandals that have occurred within the government.
Marcel Lubbers, a social scientist at Utrecht University, asserts that a significant number of Dutch citizens do not believe that their opinions are being heard, and this is true for voters who come from minority ethnic backgrounds as well as those who support far-right groups.
“A large majority of voters who come from immigrant backgrounds have the perception that their interests are not adequately represented in politics. However, we also observe this phenomenon among a very large group of voters who do not come from immigrant backgrounds and who vote for anti-immigration parties,” he said.
Nevertheless, the election has the potential to cause a stir. According to Van der Meer, elections have a tendency to increase trust because people tend to recognize that politicians listen to them. However, what is more essential is that people are able to ensure that the composition of the lower house is once again in line with their goals and their values.
“And people are more willing to accept and even forgive a new set of politicians for not immediately being able to solve issues,” the author writes.
According to Rozemarijn Lubbe, a pollster at the opinion panel of EenVandaag, the decision that Wilders made in recent weeks to adopt a tone that appeared to be slightly more moderate may have been successful in convincing some people to support him.
“There are those who are genuinely interested in a right-wing party, and they do not agree with Timmermans. These individuals strategically support the PVV.
It is important to note that a survey is not a prediction, and we know from the previous election that ten percent of voters made their decision on the final day of voting or even while they were in the voting booth. The uncertainties of the voters, the final debate, strategic voting, and the turnout will be the variables that determine the outcome.
I&O Research’s most recent survey, which was conducted on Tuesday, found that 63 percent of respondents had not yet made a final choice regarding who they would vote for.
During the last debate for the election, which took place on Tuesday night, Wilders was subjected to a vigorous assault from all sides. Even though he has been critical of Islam, he asserted that if he were to be given opportunity to serve as PM, he would do it for the sake of the entire Dutch population.
“If you take an honest look at Wilders’ policies, you will see that they cut off the Netherlands from the rest of the world, which will result in the country going bankrupt… as well as [stating] that particular groups do not belong. Even if he were to rip his manifesto to shreds, I would not go along with it.
In a later statement, Rob Jetten, the leader of the liberal democratic D66 party, advocated for the importance of internationalism and migration, and he accused Wilders of employing foreigners as a “scapegoat” for his “political earning model.”
He continued by saying, “People of Turkish or Surinamese descent are sitting on their sofas wondering, ‘Do I belong here?'” “I will never give in to policies that are intolerant.”