So there’s an election going on, but you have no idea how things work in the Netherlands? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back – here’s what you need to know!
Who can vote in the Dutch general election?
Only Dutch citizens can vote in general elections in the Netherlands, unlike in some other elections such as EU elections or elections for the municipality or water board. Despite this, there’s nothing stopping you from taking part in the political process through campaigning, donating and lobbying your local representatives – just because you don’t have a Dutch passport, doesn’t mean you can’t get involved!
Now, if you do have a Dutch passport – congratulations! You get to head to the ballot boxes on November 22. In addition to holding the Dutch nationality, you need to be over the age of 18, and not have been barred from voting due to legal reasons.
How can I vote in the Dutch national election?
Now that we’re past all the technicalities, you can get your voting card (stempas), which should have already arrived in the post, and proof of identity, and head down to your local stembureau (polling station).
What happens at the polling station (stembureau)?
When you get to the stembureau, you’ll be asked to show your ID (such as a passport or driving licence) and then you’ll be able to cast your vote. You can find your local polling station (stembureau) online, where you can also find information about how to vote if you have a disability – such as polling stations with braille for those who are visually impaired or if you need to find a polling station with wheelchair access.
I can’t make it to a polling station, can I still vote?
If you don’t want to or can’t go to a polling station, there are two other options to make sure your vote counts on November 22. Firstly, you can designate someone else to vote for you by giving them your polling card (stempas). To do this, you need to fill in the back of your polling card and give it to the person who you trust to vote on your behalf, as well as a copy of your ID (it can be a scan or a good-quality photo).
The other option is to register to vote by written proxy. For this you need to request a “verzoek om bij volmacht te stemmen” (Request to vote by proxy) form from your municipality, complete it with your own details and with the details of the person who will be voting as your proxy, and then return it to the municipality. The deadline for returning the form for this election is November 17. Your proxy will then be able to vote for you on election day.
How does the Dutch parliamentary system work and how to tell who’s won?
It probably won’t come as a surprise to many of you who have lived in the Netherlands for a while that getting a result from a Dutch election can take quite some time. The Dutch parliament is made up of 150 seats, where 76 constitute a majority.
No political party has won a majority in the Netherlands since the general election of 1894, and no party has even come close since the implementation of proportional representation in 1917. This means, more likely than not, there will be some period of negotiations between the parties to see who can come up with a majority and therefore create a successful coalition government.
The outgoing government is made up of a coalition of four political parties, the largest of which has just 34 seats – nowhere near the required 76 for a majority, which should give you some idea of what you could expect on the day. It’s very much still all to play for!
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