As many of you will already know, the Netherlands is set to go to the polls for the Dutch general elections on November 22, 2023, to select a new government for the country. There are a lot of hot debates ahead of the big day, and even though those of us who don’t have Dutch citizenship can’t vote, there’s still a lot at stake for expats. Here’s what you need to know!
Why is there a general election on November 22 in the Netherlands?
The election was called after the resignation of current Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte from his job following the collapse of a four-party coalition government between Rutte’s own People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the liberal democratic Democrats 66, the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and centrist ChristenUnie.
Now, the Dutch are going to the polls on November 22 to select a new government, likely to be a coalition of several parties, to govern the country for the next four years.
Rutte’s departure marks the end of the tenure of the EU’s second-longest serving leader after Hungarian PM Viktor Orban. While Rutte has stated that he will no longer be partaking in national politics in the Netherlands, he has expressed an interest in taking the NATO top job from current Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after his tenure expires in October 2024.
Outgoing PM Mark Rutte. Image: Gints Ivuskans / Shutterstock.com
What’s on offer from the different Dutch political parties?
Given the state of world affairs, it’s somewhat unsurprising that lots of different political parties have many different priorities this election. Here are some of the main issues they want to tackle!
Voters and parties are concerned about the cost of living
A key issue that political parties are focusing on is the cost of living crisis, with many coming up with creative ideas to improve the purchasing power of people living in the Netherlands.
For example, New Social Contract (NSC) – a new political party founded by former CDA MP Pieter Omtzigt in August 2023 – is proposing reforms when it comes to taxes, as well as creating financial support such as allowances for low-income families, while D66 wants to take a new approach to the labour market and tackle the worker shortage, as well as raising the minimum wage in the Netherlands.
D66 leader Rob Jetten. Image: Jeroen Meuwsen Fotografie / Shutterstock.com
Immigration policy could also be getting tighter
Other popular political parties such as the VVD, the newly formed NSC, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) and the increasingly favoured populist Farmer–Citizen Movement (BBB) are all keen to introduce restrictions on immigration to the Netherlands, with plans ranging from scrapping permanent residency to an annual limit of people entering the country on long-stay visas.
The BBB, among other parties, is also keen to tackle the tension between the government and the agricultural sector in the Netherlands, an issue which has characterised Dutch politics in recent years.
Image: pmvfoto / Shutterstock.com
Many political parties are seeking to restore the reputation of Dutch politics
Another issue that many parties are keen to tackle is providing “good governance”. Despite being seen as a politically and economically stable country by many overseas, the Netherlands has had a few turbulent years when it comes to domestic politics.
In the wake of the Dutch childcare benefits scandal (toeslagenaffaire), the Groningen earthquake affair and a scandal relating to Premier Rutte’s deletion of text messages (dubbed Nokiagate), and amid criticism of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and ensuing energy crisis, many parties are looking to break public perceptions against politicians and the political system and restore order to the Dutch political scene.
NSC leader Peter Omtzigt. Image: Jeroen Meuwsen Fotografie / Shutterstock.com
Who are the contenders for Dutch prime minister?
The Dutch parliament has 150 seats, with 76 needed to create a majority. It’s easy to see, therefore, that with a proportional representation system, it is very unlikely that any one party will obtain a majority. Instead, a coalition of political parties is expected to be formed after some period of negotiations between the party heads.
VVD leader Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius. Image: Jeroen Meuwsen Fotografie / Shutterstock.com.
Who could be taking their party into government?
Here are some of the political parties and leaders we should expect to see on polling day (in order of how many seats their party held before the 2023 election):
- VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy): Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius
- D66 (Democrats 66): Rob Jetten
- GL / PvdA (Green Left / Labour Party): Frans Timmermans
- PVV (Party for Freedom): Geert Wilders
- CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal): Henri Bontenbal
- SP (Socialist Party): Lilian Marijnissen
- PvdD (Party for the Animals): Esther Ouwehand
- FvD (Forum for Democracy): Thierry Baudet
- CU (Christian Union): Mirjam Bikker
- BBB (Famer-Citizen Movement): Caroline van der Plas
- SGP (Reformed Political Party): Chris Stoffer
- DENK (Political Movement Denk): Stephan van Baarle
- Volt: Laurens Dassen
- JA21: Joost Eerdmans
- BIJ1: Edson Olf
Though anything is possible on election day, the candidates most likely to end up in the top spot are the ones with the largest number of seats. At the moment, that’s Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius (VVD), Rob Jetten (D66) and Frans Timmermans (GL / PvdA).
GL / PvdA leader Frans Timmermans. Image: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com
November 22 is the big day!
In truth, we really don’t know what will happen on election day, especially since the Dutch system can take a long time to create a coalition. Last time, the entire process took 271 days from start to finish to have a functioning government – and even then it eventually collapsed! All we can say for sure is it will make for some interesting viewing in the days and weeks afterwards!
Thumb image: Stoqliq / Shutterstock.com