Government set to have problems in Senate after local elections losses


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) are set to face an even tougher legislative battle after losing seats in local elections held yesterday.

Dutch voters went to the polls to vote for 570 provincial councillors in the 12 provincial councils. The results of the elections also decide the makeup of the national parliament’s upper house or Senate (Eerste Kamer). The new provincial councils will elect their representatives to the Senate on 26th March.

Because of the loss of seats in the local elections yesterday, the ruling coalition made up of the VVD and the Labour Party (PvdA) will struggle to get legislation passed in the upper house. Before the election the two parties had 30 of the 75 seats in the Senate and relied on three smaller opposition parties to get legislation passed.

Yesterday it looks as though the VVD lost three of its 16 Senate seats and the PvdA lost six of their 14 seats. The opposition Christian Democrats won an extra two seats to take them up to 13 seats.

On the positive side, the three parties who have been giving support to the government in the upper house, the D66 Democrats (D66), Christian Union (CU) and the Political Reformed Party (SGP) all increased their vote in the local elections which should give them more seats in the Senate.

Rutte’s coalition in the upper house had 39 seats they could count on prior to the election but that looks set to drop to 36 seats in the new house, two seats short of a majority.

In terms of the provinces, the Labour Party is likely to be the largest party in Groningen province with the VVD ahead in Drenthe, Noord-Brabant, Gelderland and Flevoland, Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland.

The Christian Democrats are the largest party in Friesland, Zeeland and Flevoland and possibly Limburg whilst the D66 is expected to take control of Utrecht.

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