Campaigning for the Dutch election began on Wednesday, 15 February. Political leaders in the Netherlands have until polling day on 15 March to shape the electorates’ minds. It’s a fast-paced process with 28 parties participating. Read on to catch up with the process so far and to find out if you can vote…
There are already two front runners in the Netherlands’ general election campaign: Geert Wilders of the far right, anti-Islam party, the PVV, and Mark Rutte, the current prime minister and leader of the conservative-liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the VVD.
Reuters reports: “… anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders [is the] front-runner in a vote that will test the anti-establishment sentiment that swept Britain out of the European Union and Donald Trump into the U.S. presidency.
This week, Wilders and Rutte pulled out of a leaders’ TV debate. A win or loss in the debate could have signalled the likely outcome of the popular vote.
The Irish Times writes:
If Mr Rutte wins the popular vote, the likelihood is he will form a five-party coalition. If Mr Wilders emerges ahead, the other main parties have pledged not to work with him because of his anti-immigrant views – and if he cannot form a government, the initiative returns to Mr Rutte.
The BBC reports:
A quick calculation suggests almost three million people would vote for Geert Wilders. Are Dutch voters really turning to populist Geert Wilders?
The Washington Post writes:
If you want to understand political trends sweeping Europe, look to the Netherlands. Its students began protesting in 1966, foreshadowing young left-wing agita across the continent. It’s 1994 election brought centre-left “third-way” politics into style three years before Tony Blair was elected in the U.K.
And this year, the country may once again be a bellwether for things to come … It’s practically a dress rehearsal of elections to come later this year in France and Germany…
The so-called Dutch Trump’s election pledges include a ‘de-islamification’ of the Netherlands, a ban on the Koran, a plan to close mosques, a plan to deport repeat offenders who hold dual nationality, and a closure of borders to immigrants.
Just like Trump, the founder of the Party for Freedom, or PVV, likes to conduct his public conversations through Twitter:
Meantime, amid fears over hacking, it has also been announced that the Netherlands is turning back the clock to hand-counting the votes.
Who can vote in the Dutch elections?
In the Netherlands, Dutch nationals aged 18 or over have the right to vote (actief kiesrecht) in local, regional, national and European elections.
EU citizens from outside the Netherlands may only vote in local and European elections if legally resident in the country.
Non-EU citizens are eligible to vote in local elections but only if they have been legally resident in the Netherlands for five years or more.
Find out about the Dutch voting system at Voting in National Elections – the Netherlands.