Provincial elections in the Netherlands: in an ever more fragmented party landscape, the left is losing (its) face

Pacifying the Senate: Why provincial elections are important

D66 activists celebrate on election night. Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg, licensed under Creative Commons

Bewildering fragmentation cloaks a right-ward shift

Detailed overall results of the provincial elections. Source: Sum of official results by province.

The Dutch case is especially confusing because, while voters have turned against the government, they have not actually turned to the right or left. Since 2012 the Netherlands has been ruled by a grand coalition of the centre-right Liberals and the centre-left Labour Party. [..] Because the government is centrist, opposition to its policies has scattered voters in every direction.

The Labour Party is in an impossible strategic situation: it suffers an exodus of voters to both D66 and the [Socialist Party (SP)], but those voters, demographically, are each other’s opposites and are leaving the Labour Party for opposite reasons. The voters who have headed, and keep heading, to the SP feel that the Labour Party has lost its left-wing soul. They tend to be gloomy about the country’s economy as well as their own financial perspectives, look to the government to shore up the social protections of the welfare state, and be angry that the Labour Party is instead “selling out” to the VVD, to big business, to the EU. But the voters which are deserting the party for D66 are fairly optimistic about the economy and their own perspective, warmly favour EU integration, and might only be afraid of the country “missing the boat” by not demonstrating enough dynamism and adaptability. [..] The net result is that any move the Labour Party might make to win back the voters on one side will likely just further increase its bleeding on the other side.

Doing the rounds: an overview of each party’s performance

The campaign team of D66 leader Pechtold made sure, American campaign-style, that the TV coverage of the party’s election night rally would show him surrounded by a group of young and somewhat multicultural party members. Things were a little more awkward at the Labour Party rally.

What now, little lion land?

Much of the voters’ frustration stems from austerity measures the government has enacted over the past two years, such as cuts in health benefits and hikes in excise taxes. But the elections have actually strengthened the political forces demanding austerity. Both D66 and the Christian Democrats insist that the government commit in advance to new deficit-cutting measures to balance out any tax cuts.

An SP-friendly political cartoon. Labour leader Samson is wielding the wrecking ball, demolishing the health care system. Socialist leader Roemer is coming running, calling out at him to stop. Samson responds by saying: you guys are just yelling from the sidelines. At least we are taking our responsibility.
An informational billboard for the provincial elections with posters for the different parties. The Freedom Party one features Geert Wilders and the slogan Enough Is Enough; the Socialist Party’s slogan could be loosely translated as Settle The Score. D66 has been running with the slogan Now, Forward, while the Party for the Animals appeals to voters to Stick To Your Ideals. Photo by Patrick Rasenberg, licensed under Creative Commons.

Age, income and education

Data for this (and the following) charts are from polling by Maurice de Hond
Map based on official results by municipality, which can be downloaded as spreadsheet from the Electoral Council site.

Political geography

Results by province, in detail
Regional strengths and weaknesses of each party: VVD, D66, CDA
Same as above, but with a common scale, to make comparison between strengths of different parties easier
Note that the pooled results of these two parties require a different scale of their own: such is the contrast between its bulwarks and the rest of the country. Most everything to the south/east of the Bible Belt is ancestrally catholic; many of the non-urban parts to the north/west of the Bible Belt is traditionally protestant but of the more mainstream or liberal (vrijzinnig) varieties.
Regional strengths and weaknesses of each party: PVV, SP, PvdA
Same as above, but with a common scale, to make comparison between strengths of different parties easier
Election posters for the 2015 provincial elections. Photo by harry_nl, licensed under Creative Commons
Regional strengths and weaknesses of each political current
Same as above, but with a common scale to make comparisons easier
Historic election data from verkiezingsuitslagen.nl. Maps with historic municipal boundaries via Data Archiving and Networked Services — DANS: Dr. O.W.A. Boonstra (2007), NLGis shapefiles, http://persistent-identifier.nl/urn:nbn:nl:ui:13-wsh-wv7

Far left, far right: revisiting Oldambt

The endless skies of the north: grain fields near Beerta. Photo by XPeria2Day, licensed under Creative Commons
United Communist Party posters at the former cultural center of Winschoten. Photo by ripperda, licensed under Creative Commons.

--

--

Holland — Hungary — Spain

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store