Dutch elections 2012 are on September 12, 2012. Here are 10 things you need to know about Dutch elections.
1. Dutch elections concern the seats in the House of Representative
National elections in The Netherlands means Dutch people will choose a candidate to sit in the House of Representatives of the States-General (in Dutch Tweede Kamer van de Staten-Generaal). In short, we call these the Tweede Kamerverkiezingen. There are 150 seats in the Dutch House of Representatives.
2. Winner gets to be Prime-Minister
The political party who wins the most votes will supply the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. The Dutch Prime Minister is thus never chosen directly by the public. It is a consequence of elections. The Dutch Prime Minister is the head of government and the Minister of General Affairs. The function of Prime-Minister in The Netherlands is not as important as in the UK or France.
3. Elections concern the new Ministers of State
The political party who gets the majority of votes (who wins the elections) will divide the positions of the Dutch Council of Ministers among them. The Ministers will govern the land by making new laws.
4. Dutch government is a coalition of parties
In The Netherlands however, one party has never won the majority of votes. This is because of the system of proportional representation. This means that if a party gets 30% of votes, then they get 30% of seats. The party who wins most votes has the most power to form the government with other parties. We call this a coalition. The good thing about coalitions is that we can be sure the people that are ruling the land have the support of a majority of the people.
5. Forming a Dutch coalition
Unfortunate is that setting up a government after elections is a hell of a job. It can take up to one year to form a new government in The Netherlands! Another problem is that the parties have to discuss every new law endlessly, which slows down the political process. Because of its importance, speculations about potential coalitions after elections is an important part of the election campaign.
6. 20 Dutch political parties
There are 20 political parties part of the Dutch elections 2012. 11 of them stand a chance of winning seats in parliament. The main traditional parties are from left to right: SP (socialist party), Groen Links (green party), PVDA (labour party), D’66 (democratic party), Christen Unie (Christian), CDA (biggest Christian party), SGP (reformed/protestant), VVD (liberals).
New parties are the PVV, the party of the Animals (Partij van de Dieren) and 50+.
In recent years the party of Geert Wilders, PVV, joined in the political mix. Last elections PVV won an astonishing 20 seats. PVV then ‘supported’ the minority coalition of VVD and CDA. Eventually Wilders blew up the coalition and new elections were necessary.
Geert Wilders is famous for being anti-immigrant and anti-Europe. His populist views and opinions have quickly made PVV one of the biggest parties. In government though, PVV is a difficult party to work with. The other parties are not happy asking Wilders to join a coalition.
8. Potential winners: VVD or PvdA
The elections race will be between the liberals of VVD or the labour of PvdA. The party that wins, will decide who takes part in discussions on the coalition. It’s also possible, that VVD and PvdA together will form a coalition. A government where the Christian parties are excluded is called a ‘purple kabinet’ ‘Paars’).
9. Coffee shops, Euro crisis, pensions.
Hot topics in this years elections include the financial support for suffering European countries. Liberals and right wing parties state are reluctant to support Greece if the country doesn’t meet the conditions. Christian parties want to close down the coffee shops. Most left wing parties however don’t want the introduction of the weed pass.
Other topics are cut backs in the health insurance, the retirement age and cut backs in the cultural sector.
10. Match your vote to a Dutch political party
Want to know where you stand in the spectrum of Dutch politics?
Take the Votematch in English.