Netherlands Provincial 2011

Provincial elections were held in the Netherlands on March 2. As an intermediary level between the state and the municipalities, the twelve Dutch provinces have limited powers and largely carry out minor administrative duties and serve as links between the top and lower echelons of government. Yet, the provincial legislatures are responsible for electing the Senate or Eerste Kamer, which unlike other indirectly elected upper houses, has the power to veto legislation. The current Rutte coalition (VVD/CDA with PVV support) lacks a majority in the Senate, with 35 out of 75 seats. Provincial elections thus carry a much more important national message despite the strength of some local regionalist parties in certain provinces.

Turnout was 56%, up from 46% in 2007 and the highest turnout since 1995. Here are the results:

VVD 19.57% (+1.48%) winning 113 seats (+12)
PvdA 17.29% (-0.64%) winning 108 seats (-6)
CDA 14.18% (-10.8%) winning 86 seats (-65)
PVV 12.42% winning 69 seats
SP 10.15% (-4.67%) winning 57 seats (-26)
D66 8.33% (+5.77%) winning 42 seats (+33)
GroenLinks 6.29% (+0.14%) winning 33 seats (+1)
CU 3.32% (-2.15%) winning 23 seats (-12)
50+ 2.36% winning 9 seats
SGP 2.19% (-0.2%) winning 12 seats (-2)
PvdD 1.87% (-0.68%) winning 6 seats (-3)
Regionalists and others 1.14% (-2.54%) winning 4 seats (-3)
CU/SGP 0.5% (-0.38%) winning 1 seat (-2)
Frisian Nationalist Party 0.39% (-0.11%) winning 4 seats (-1)

And the distribution of seats by province:

Groningen: PvdA 12 (nc), VVD 6 (+1), SP 6 (-1), CDA 5 (-4), D66 3 (+2), PVV 3, GL 3 (nc), Regionalist 1 (nc), PvdD 1 (nc)
Friesland: PvdA 11 (-1), CDA 8 (-4), VVD 6 (+1), FNP 4 (-1), PVV 4, SP 3 (-1), CU 3 (nc), GL 2 (nc), D66 2 (+2)
Drenthe: PvdA 12 (-1), VVD 9 (+1), CDA 6 (-4), PVV 4, SP 4 (-1), GL 2 (+2), CU 2 (-1), GL 2 (nc)
Overijssel: CDA 11 (-6), PvdA 9 (nc), VVD 8 (+2), PVV 4, SP 4 (-2), D66 3 (+3), CU 3 (-2), GL 2 (nc), SGP 2 (nc), 50+ 1
Flevoland: VVD 10 (+1), PvdA 6 (-1), PVV 6, CDA 4 (-4), SP 3 (-3), D66 3 (+3), CU 3 (-2), GL 2 (nc), SGP 1 (nc), 50+ 1
Gelderland: VVD 11 (+2), PvdA 10 (nc), CDA 9 (-6), PVV 6, SP 6 (-1), D66 4 (+3), GL 3 (nc), CU 2 (-2), SGP 2 (-1), 50+ 1, PvdD 1 (nc)
Utrecht: VVD 11 (+1), PvdA 7 (-1), CDA 6 (-5), PVV 5, D66 5 (+3), GL 4 (nc), SP 4 (-1), CU 2 (-2), SGP 1 (nc), 50+ 1, PvdD 1 (nc)
Noord-Holland: VVD 13 (nc), PvdA 11 (nc), PVV 6, D66 6 (+4), SP 5 (-4), CDA 5 (-5), GL 5 (nc), PvdD 1 (-1), Regionalist 1 (nc), 50+ 1, CU/SGP 1 (-1)
Zuid-Holland: VVD 12 (nc), PvdA 10 (nc), PVV 8, CDA 6 (-7), SP 5 (-3), D66 5 (+4), GL 3 (nc), CU 2 (-2), SGP 2 (nc), 50+ 1, PvdD 1 (nc)
Zeeland: VVD 7 (+1), PvdA 7 (+1), CDA 6 (-4), PVV 5, SGP 4 (-1), SP 3 (-2), Regionalist 2 (nc), CU 2 (-1), D66 2 (+2), GL 1 (-1)
Noord-Brabant: VVD 12 (+1), CDA 10 (-8), PVV 8, SP 8 (-4), PvdA 7 (-1), D66 5 (+4), GL 3 (+1), 50+ 1, PvdD 1 (nc)
Limburg: PVV 10, CDA 10 (-8), VVD 8 (+1), PvdA 6 (-2), SP 6 (-3), GL 3 (+1), D66 2 (+1), 50+ 2

results missing in Uden (North-Brabant) – you don’t have all year, folks

The results were largely similar to the 2010 results. The CDA performed poorly, but on the good side they didn’t do as badly as predicted and slightly improved on their pathetic 2010 showing (13.6%). Yet, the party is still in a very dire state as it lacks a leader and is still split 50/50 over participation in the government. In this context, the CDA’s result isn’t as bad as it could be made out but it certainly is a terrible showing compared to 2007 or past elections. The CDA is the largest party only in Overijssel whereas it had been the largest party in 8 provinces in 2007. Its Catholic strongholds of North-Brabant and Limburg haven’t come back.

The VVD’s vote fell slightly since 2010 (20.5% to 19.6%) and is the de-facto but not overwhelming winner of these elections. The VVD will be able to control many provinces, but apart from that its results are not all that great.

PvdA (Labour), the main opposition party, did poorly falling over 2 points on 2010 (19.6% to 17.3%) which reflects the poor job its done in opposition and its not too popular leader, Job Cohen. With 12% and 69 seats, establishing for itself a local base, the PVV is the big winner but its result is slightly below that set by the polls and 3 points lower than its record 15.4% in 2009. The party held its ground in its northern strongholds and has probably gained Friesland from the CDA.

The PVV’s vote has receded somewhat in Wilder’s native Limburg where it won only 20% where it had previously won 27% (in 2010). It seems to have fallen back considerably in the north (Groningen) since 2009. Yet, the PVV hasn’t – yet – suffered the potential wrath of its voters for supporting a government. Perhaps the government’s decent popularity explains why the PVV is still doing well. If it can maintain such results, the PVV could be on its way to forging itself a stable place in Dutch politics hovering between 10 and 15% similar to the FN in France between 1986 and 2007. But I wager that government backing will prevent the PVV from doing that just now (the FN never supported from the outside any government).

The Socialists performed poorly (10.2%, 9.8% in 2010), continuing to suffer from an evaporation of support (a good share to the PVV) since the retirement of its popular leader Jan Marijnissen who attracted a lot of voters prior to the PVV’s rise with anti-immigration rhetoric. The SP municipalities in North-Brabant and Limburg are around Boxmeer, the hometown of SP leader Emile Roemer.

D66 had good results, improving by 1.3% on its 7% showing in 2010 and by nearly 6% since 2007. The 2007 elections were held in the wake of the D66’s traditional slump following its being in government (it was in the CDA-led cabinet until 2006) and now as the D66 is out of government they’re on an upswing. D66 is particularly successful in positioning itself as a strongly anti-PVV party, so watch for its polling to improve further as/if the government gets more unpopular and if Labour is unable to capitalize on that. D66 won two municipalities, Delft and Leiden, both of which are uni towns.

The GroenLinks were remarkably stable, polling slightly under its 6.7% 2010 showing and a bit over its 6.1% showing in 2007. The party has suffered a bit from its support of legislation to send police officers to Afghanistan to train the Afghan police. It shed one seat in Zeeland, where it was in the outgoing provincial coalition government. It also lost votes in urban areas in North and South Holland as well as Utretch, Groningen and Arnhem.

CU fell back considerably after a strong showing in 2007 but its result is slightly over its 2.9% 2010 result. It may have been hurt from participation in a large number of provincial governments. The SGP, which has a very stable fossilized electorate, held up more or less well and again managed to top the poll in a number of municipalities in the Bible Belt including its orthodox Reformist stronghold of Urk in Flevoland (46% for the SGP, 10.1% for ‘non-Christian’ [CDA, CU, SGP] parties). The CU and SGP ran a common list in North-Brabant and North-Holland.

50+ is a new senior’s interest party founded by maverick former PvdA member Jan Nagel. Provincial parties largely fell back, with regionalist or local parties losing their seats in Limburg, Brabant, South-Holland and Utretch. The FNP fell back a bit in Friesland, while the Party for the North (Groningen), Party for Zeeland (Zeeland) and the Elderly Party (North Holland) held their seats. The PvZ even managed to win one town in Zeeland.

These provincial States-General will elect a new Senate in May. Though provincial MPs may vote for parties other than their own in Senate elections, it is estimated that the new Senate will look as such:

VVD 16 seats (+2)
PvdA 14 seats (nc)
CDA 11 seats (-10)
PVV 10 seats (+10)
SP 8 seats (-4)
D66 6 seats (+4)
GroenLinks 5 seats (+1)
CU 2 seats (-2)
50+ 1 seat (+1)
SGP 1 seat (-)
PvdD 1 seat (nc)
Regionalists and others 0 seats (-1)

If the new Senate does indeed look like this, the government and PVV will have 37 seats (+2) but will fall one short of an overall majority. It is very much possible, however, that the SGP and CU could provide the government with a de-facto majority through its support. D66 has already expressed concern over the SGP’s potential support for the government in the Senate.

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Posted on March 3, 2011, in Netherlands, Regional and local elections. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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