VVD holds onto majority but D66 are the big winners in Dutch election
After three days of in-person voting and a tense night as ballots across the Netherlands were counted, Prime Minister Mark Rutte managed to hold onto his party’s majority in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), with the latest forecasts suggesting the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) will gain three seats. But the big winners of the night was Sigrid Kaag and D66, taking 24 seats and becoming the second-largest party.
Mark Rutte wins another term as Dutch Prime Minister
In spite of fears that voter turnout would be lower this year than it was in the last national election in 2017, the people in the Netherlands turned out in droves to cast their ballots. The estimated turnout is 82,6 percent, with a whopping 80 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds getting involved in politics - a 13 percent increase compared to 2017.
Rutte and the VVD’s win was pretty much a foregone conclusion, but opinion polls had predicted the party may lose a couple of seats this year. Luckily for Rutte, that didn’t come to pass as his party cemented its hold in the House, and so with 35 seats, Rutte enters his fourth term as Prime Minister. “The voters of the Netherlands have given my party an overwhelming vote of confidence,” he said, “I have the energy for another 10 years.”
The tension in the run-up to the election mostly revolved around which party would win the neck-and-neck race for second place: the Party for Freedom (PVV), the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), or D66. The social-liberal D66 party came out on top, with Kaag calling the result an “extraordinary achievement.” With 24 seats, the party equals its best election result since 1994.
Big wins for Baudet in the Netherlands' national election
While Geert Wilders and the PVV may have lost seats, going from 20 to 17, other extreme right-wing parties had a more successful night. Aside from Kaag, another big winner of the night was Thierry Baudet and Forum for Democracy (FvD) who are predicted to win a further six seats, taking them from two to eight. And the FvD splinter party, JA21, will also have a say in the new government, with the party expecting to take four seats.
JA21 aren’t the only new party to win a place in the House. As it currently stands, another three new parties are looking forward to taking their seat(s) in the Tweede Kamer: Volt, with three seats, and BIJ1 and BBB with one each - although it is worth noting that votes are still being counted, and so BIJ1 and BBB’s places aren’t entirely secure.
On the other hand, several parties saw their political influence cut in the latest election. CDA, formerly the third-largest party with 19 seats, is currently expected to drop to 15 seats, but the big disappointments were for the left-leaning parties GroenLinks and the Socialist Party. Prior to the election, each party had 14 seats, but now they are left with seven and nine respectively.
What happens next?
The clear results, and the fact that D66 have already been a part of Rutte’s coalition for the last four years, mean that the next steps are “very obvious,” according to the Prime Minister. He has already said the VVD will be in talks with both D66 and the CDA.
But whether these three parties will have enough seats to make up a majority remains uncertain - the latest forecast puts them at 74 seats, when they would need at least 75. If the VVD decides to stick with the current coalition set-up and include ChristenUnie, then the four parties would once again have a majority.
However, it remains unsure whether CDA will want to work with D66, as Kaag is calling for “more progressive, fairer, and greener” policies. If they aren’t on board, GroenLinks and the Labour Party could make up the difference and provide 16 seats, which would take the VVD and D66 to the goal of 75. Or, if ChristenUnie isn’t on board, then Volt’s three seats could be used to take the VVD, CDA, and D66 over the threshold.