Dutch citizens will vote today for a new government in one of the most-watched elections in years. While polls have tilted towards PM Rutte's VVD Party in recent days, the euroskeptic leader of the Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, looks set to gain the most seats but the necessary coalition will be anything but clean (since World War II, it’s taken an average of 72 days to form a government).
The timing of the vote results is as follows (via Bloomberg):
Polling stations across the Netherlands close at 9pm (4pm ET), and counting of the votes, which is done by hand, starts immediately. Polls will still be open for five more hours on three Dutch islands in the Caribbean -- Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius -- but they represent only a tiny fraction of the overall electorate of 12.7 million.
Ipsos is conducting one exit poll for broadcasters NOS and RTL, to be published just after 9pm (4pm ET) . The first version, which will estimate turnout and the distribution of seats, is based on responses up to 830pm (330pmET); it’s updated at 930pm (430pmET) with last-minute voters. It’s a big exercise: The pollsters expect to get about 38,000 respondents. By comparison, the 2015 exit poll in the U.K., a country with more than three times as many voters, had a sample of 20,000 respondents. Usually the exit poll is a pretty accurate prediction of the end result in the Netherlands. In 2012, it was a total of six seats off out of 150.
The total number of votes cast is divided by 150, the total number of seats, to determine the threshold for winning a seat. In 2012, it was 62,828. Then the cumulative total for each party is divided by the threshold to determine the number of seats it’s entitled to. The handful of seats left over are shared out according to a mathematical formula.
What will determine the next prime minister?
Basically, the ability to form coalitions. The Netherlands has so many political parties -- a dozen hold seats in parliament -- that no one party has ever won a majority on its own. Win or lose, this will pose a challenge to Wilders, since most other parties have ruled out a tie-up with his Freedom Party.
As MishTalk's Mike Shedlock explains, this will get messy...
Political Party Explanation
- VVD is the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. VVD is led by prime minister Mark Rutte.
- PvdA is the Labour party. PvdA is in a current coalition with VVD.
- PVV is Partij voor de Vrijheid, Geet Wilders’ annti-immigraton eurosceptic Party for Freedom.
- SP is the Socialist party. SP is in opposition against the Second Rutte cabinet.
- CDA is the Christian Democratic Appeal party. From 2010 to 2012 the CDA was a junior coalition partner in a right-wing minority cabinet with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), supported in parliament by the Party for Freedom (PVV).
- D66 is the Democrats 66 party whose main objective is to democratize the political system. It seeks to create an American-style presidential system.
- CU is the Christian Union. The CU holds socially conservative positions on issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia. It is Eurosceptic while maintaining progressive stances on economic, immigration and environmental issues.
- GL is the GroenLinks (green) party. GroenLinks describes itself as “green”, “social” and “tolerant”
- SGP is the Reformed Political Party. The term Reformed is not a reference to political reform but is a synonym for Calvinism. The party favors the re-introduction of the death penalty in the Netherlands. They base this on the Bible, specifically on Genesis 9:6, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” The SGP opposes feminism, and concludes, on Biblical grounds, that men and women are of equal value (gelijkwaardig) but not equal.
- PvdD, Partij voor de Dieren, is the Party for the Animals. Among its main goals are animal rights and animal welfare, though it claims not to be a single-issue party. The party does consider itself to be a testimonial party, which does not seek to gain political power, but only to testify to its beliefs and thereby influence other parties.
- 50+, 50 Plus, is a pensioners’ interests political party.
When do we get the final result?
Not until 4 p.m on March 21, when the the Dutch Electoral Council makes its formal announcement. But unless it’s really very close, the seat distribution shouldn’t change.
- It takes 76 seats to form a coalition.
- All of the parties have ruled out entering a coalition that contains Geet Wilders’ PVV.
- Take away Wilders’ 24 PVV seats and another 14 seats from SP and it gets rather problematic coming up with 76 seats given the varying views.
- VVD+PvdA+D66+GL = 27+9+16+19=71
- VVD+PvdA+D66+CDA = 27+9+16+21=73
In regards to point number 3, is the CU or SGP likely to agree with the socially tolerant GL Green party?
At Least Four to Tango
In a Bellwether to European Populism, Bloomberg reports that it will take at least 4 to tango.
A coalition of 5 looks even more likely, and if PVV hits the high 20s, I wonder if it takes a coalition of 6.
Don’t Hold Your Breath
“Since World War II, it’s taken an average of 72 days to form a government. The speed record, dating from 1958, is 10 days. But be warned: A total of 208 days were required in 1977 to establish a coalition that consisted of only two parties.”