On Wednesday, 15 March 2017, elections for the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamerverkiezingen 2017) will be held in the Netherlands. On that day the voters decide which candidates will hold one of the 150 seats in the House for the next four years. MPs scrutinize the work of the Government and they are entitled to make and amend bills.
RULES OF PROCEDURE
At least once every four years, the Dutch go to the polls for the House of Representatives election. Parties wanting to take part in the election have to register their candidate lists with the Electoral Council. Citizens wishing to vote on Election day must meet the following conditions:
they must be Dutch nationals
they must be age 18 or older
they are not exempt from the right to vote
Dutch nationals abroad and residents of the Dutch Caribbean, Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius and Saba, are also entitled to vote.
THE FALL OF THE CABINET
The installation of the current House of Representatives took place on 20 September 2012. If the Cabinet falls, early elections are called. This was the case on 12 September 2012, after the Rutte I Cabinet collapsed on 23 April 2012. The election that followed resulted in the formation of the Rutte II Cabinet, a coalition made up of liberal VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) and the Labour Party PvdA, the two biggest parties in the House of Representatives at the time.
Prior to the 2017 elections, political parties and their candidates will be campaigning across the country, up to and including Election Day on Wednesday, 15 March 2017. Following closure of the polls in the evening, unofficial polling results are published based on exit polls. The official election results are published later in a public sitting of the Electoral Council. The current House of Representatives will be dissolved on 23 March, after which the new House of Representatives will take office.
No later than one week after the election, the new House of Representatives holds a debate about the election results. Since 2012, the House of Representatives, instead of the King, has taken the initiative in forming the new Cabinet. In the course of the debate the House designates an informateur, whose duty it is to explore which coalition of political parties could form a viable new Cabinet. The formation process may last several weeks, up to half a year in some cases. After the conclusion of a coalition agreement, the King swears in the new ministers and state secretaries and the Cabinet begins its work.
FORMATION OF PARLIAMENTARY GROUPS
On Wednesday, 22 June 2016, the Speaker of the House, Ms Khadija Arib, took receipt of the report, “The formation of parliamentary groups in the House of Representatives", on behalf of the Presidium. In this report, a working group composed of members of the House of Representatives proposed that no new parliamentary groups should be created in the House after the elections. MPs who separate themselves from their political party will be called individual groups and will be dealt with accordingly.
81 PARTY NAMES REGISTERED
In late December, the Electoral Council announced that a record number of 81 party names have been registered for the election.
DO ALL REGISTERED PARTIES PARTICIPATE IN THE ELECTIONS?
No, more is needed. There is a one-time deposit of € 11,250 for parties who have not previously participated in the elections or who did not obtain a seat in the last election. The Electoral Council pays this amount back once a party achieves 0.75 percent of the quota on Election Day, little more than 47,000 votes. A new party also needs at least 30 declarations of support in each of the 20 constituencies.
The following political parties have announced plans to participate in the elections of 15 March 2017. They have a list of candidates presented or will do so shortly. All these parties are registered with the Electoral Council: VVD, PvdA, SP, CDA, PVV, D66, CU, GL, SGP, PvdD, 50PLUS, Independents.
THE RESULT: WINNERS AND LOSERS
When the polls close at 21:00 hours, the votes are counted. The Central Elections Office in The Hague gathers the results from local polling stations, counts them and determines the results of the election.
In the electoral system, a party will only enter the House if that party meets the quota. There almost always residual seats remaining. The remaining seats for the House are distributed according to the system of the highest averages. To qualify, a party must obtain at least one seat. The official results will be announced on Monday, March 20th, 2017, at a public meeting of the Electoral Council.
NEW BEGINNING for MPs ON 23 MARCH
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 is the last day the House meets in its previous composition. A day later, on Thursday, March 23, the installation of the new MPs will take place. They then take the oath or pledge.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CHOOSES A NEW CHAIRMAN
Since 2002, the House chooses its own chairman. This happens just after the new Parliament is sworn in. Before 2002, the parties agreed among themselves which group would provide the Chairman. Now all MPs can apply for this job via a letter to all MPs. In a plenary session, the candidates may substantiate their motivation.
The new Parliament will debate a week about the election results. Since 2012, the House of Representatives took the lead in formation of the government, previously the task of the king. An informant is chosen who will investigate to see if a coalition of political parties is achievable in order to form a new cabinet. After concluding a coalition agreement, the king swears in the new ministers and state secretary and the government begins its work.
THE PARTIES AND WHAT THEY STAND FOR
The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is a conservative-liberal party. As a center-right movement, it attaches great importance to private enterprise, market liberalism and the freedom of the individual in political, social, and economic affairs. The party is generally supportive of European economic integration, but is less supportive of political integration. VVD is a member of the Liberal International and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party.
The Labour Party,PvdA, is a social-democratic party and center-left in orientation. Its program is based on more social, political, and economic equality for all citizens. Former PvdA Prime Minister Joop den Uyl has called it an "equal distribution of knowledge, income and power." In recent years the PvdA has espoused a centrist Third Way program. The PvdA is generally supportive of European integration. Although called the Labor Party, it has no formal links to the trade unions. In practice, however, strong links exist with PvdA politicians who often began their careers in the FNV trade union. The party is led by Diederik Samsom. The PvdA is a member of the Socialist International.
The Party for Freedom (PVV) is a right-wing populism and conservative-liberal party. It was founded by Geert Wilders, who split from the VVD in 2004. The PVV seeks to lower taxation. It is Eurosceptical and seeks to limit immigration, especially from Islamic and non-Western countries.
The Christian Democratic Appeal is a Christian democratic party on the center to center-right. It supports free enterprise and holds to the principle that government activity should supplement but not supplant communal action by citizens. On the political spectrum, the CDA sees its philosophy as standing between the "individualism" of the VVD and the "statism" of the Labor Party. The CDA favors European economic, cultural and political integration. The party is led by Sybrand van Haersma Buma. The CDA is a member of the Centrist Democrat International.
The Socialist Party (SP) is a left-wing populist party. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was a People's Republic of China supported Maoist party, but in 1991, the SP dropped its communist course and chose a more independent and less radical democratic socialist course, having long denounced Maoism and the People's Republic of China. The party itself has called it a move "from socialism to a social-ism." The party opposes what it sees as the European Superstate. The SP operates as an independent party within the European United Left–Nordic Green Left in the European Parliament. Emile Roemer is the leader of the SP.
Green Left combines green politics with left wing ideals. The party was founded in 1989 as a merger of left radical, pacifist, communist and Christian left parties. Green Left is a member of the Global Greens.
The Christian Union is a socially conservative Christian democratic party, which mostly concentrates on ethical issues, such as a resistance against abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage. In other areas (e.g. immigration and the environment), the party often is closer to the left-wing parties. It is skeptical about European integration. The CU operates within the European Conservatives and Reformists group within the European Parliament and is a founding member of the European Christian Political Movement. Arie Slob leads the party.
Democrats 66 (D66) has had widely fluctuating electoral fortunes since the party's founding in 1966. It is a centrist social liberal party, professing a pro-European platform of ethnic and religious tolerance. Alexander Pechtold leads the party. D66 is a member of the Liberal International.
Party for the Animals (PvdD) is an animal rights party that can be labeled as a one issue-party, though it claims not to be. The focus of the party is on animal welfare, protecting the environment and conservation. The party also has distinctive points of view about education, privacy, health care and the economy. In general, the party is considered center-left to left wing.
The Reformed Political Party (SGP) is a party of the Christian right with stronger ethical points of view than the Christian Union. Although a small party on a national level, it is an important political power in some reformed orthodox municipalities. The party sees governments (local, regional, national and international) as unconditional servants of God. The party bases all of its views directly on the Bible. The party opposes European integration and operates within the European Conservatives and Reformists group and is a member of the European Christian Political Movement. Kees van der Staaij leads the SGP.
50Plus (50+) is a Pensioners Party. It is led by political entrepreneur Jan Nagel.
The Independent Senate Group (Dutch: Onafhankelijke Senaatsfractie, OSF) is a parliamentary party in the Dutch Senate with one senator, representing several provincial parties.
With which party do you agree?
Would you like to vote but are not sure which party agrees most with your point of view?
1. Try Stemmentracker (Vote Tracker) which tests each party’s preferences on the basis of 30 votes in the House of Representatives.
Stemmentracker: an inverted Stemwijzer (VoteMatch)
With the Stemmentracker you compare your views with election promises of political parties (i.e. the future). With the Stemmentracker you compare your views with the actual voting behavior of the parties who were in the House in the past.
2. As of February, 2017, the most common website to aid you with the upcoming election, stemwijzer.nl, will be updated with the selected propositions of the political parties.
Go to: http://www.stemwijzer.nl/
What do we (BES islands) need to do to vote?
If you live in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
Registration for participation in the upcoming election is not required. All Dutch voters in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba will receive a voting pass to cast their votes at a polling station on March 15, 2017.