Dutch election 2017: Health minister Edith Schippers to start formation process

Dutch election 2017: Health minister Edith Schippers to start formation process

The leaders of the 13 parties elected to the Dutch 150 seat parliament met for the first time on Thursday afternoon and asked health minister Edith Schippers to start the process of forming a new government. Schippers has taken on the role of verkenner - who will sound out the parties about the make-up of the next coalition. According to parliamentary chairman Khadija Arib, Schippers aims to have her report completed by next Wednesday so it can be debated by the new line up of MPs on Thursday. Once that has happened, work on creating consensus between parties likely to form the new cabinet can begin. Consensus Experts agree that Mark Rutte's VVD is likely to link up with the Christian Democrats and D66 Liberals, but opinion is divided about the fourth party. ChristenUnie, with five seats, would help create a coalition with 76 seats in parliament, which may be considered too vulnerable. The left wing green party  GroenLinks, who won 10 seats and are now on 14, is also an option, although their inclusion is likely to be more problematic, experts say. Rutte, who seems set to be leading his third cabinet, told VVD party workers on Thursday he is proud of the result. But 'it also brings with it great obligations,' Rutte said, before refering to the party's eight-seat loss. Labour As the dust settles on the election results, the Labour party (PvdA) has begun asking why its vote collapsed so dramatically. Labour, a partner in the outgoing coalition, polled 38 seats in 2012 but now has just nine MPs. Several senior party members have already suggested that the party should consider dissolving itself. Party chairman Hans Spekman, who has already said he sees no reason to resign, will face a no-confidence vote at a party meeting on Saturday. Among the Labour supporters who will not be returning to parliament are trade minister Lilianne Ploumen, who launched the She Decides movement in response to US president Donald Trump's withdrawal of support for abortion initiatives. Ahmed Marcouch, a outspoken Labour MP from Amsterdam, who was in 14th place on the party list, is also out of a job. Turnout Turnout on Wednesday was around 80%, up from 74% in 2008. The lowest turnout was in Heerlen, where 72% of people voted. Turnout topped 130% on the Wadden Sea island of Schiermonnikoog, where many holidaymakers also cast their votes. Another noteworthy result was booked on the former island of Urk, where the fundamentalist Protestant SGP won 56% of the vote. The official results will be published next Tuesday, when it will also become clear if any candidate MPs have received enough preference votes to make it into parliament at the expense of their colleagues. Although the new MPs will take their seats next week, the current line-up of ministers will remain in office in a caretaker role until a new coalition has been established. For the election results and party reactions, check out the DutchNews.nl election special.  More >

What party leaders say: election result

Rutte jubilation at election result: ‘whoa! to the wrong sort of populism’ With his broadest smile in months, the last administration's prime minister Mark Rutte welcomed the results making his VVD the largest party. In his speech to a cheering VVD rally in the The Hague, Rutte said: ‘This was a festival for democracy today, with rows of people at voting stations. It was also an evening where the Netherlands, after Brexit and the American elections, said ‘whoa’ to the wrong sort of populism. Now it’s important to bring our country together and form a stable government.’ He added that his campaign had two goals: to ensure that everyone in the Netherlands was personally feeling the recent economic uptick and to stop ‘the wrong kind of populism’ gaining power. ‘We can be happy that it didn’t,’ he added, smiling, even though his party had lost 8 seats. He added that he had already received congratulations from European leaders - although Turkey, he told NOS Radio 1, hadn't called yet. Geert Wilders Geert Wilders, head of the far-Right PVV, immediately sent out a text congratulating his supporters on a five-seat gain, taking his total to 20 and making him the new second-largest party. But this was far short of the polling numbers he had been achieving, which had attracted international press interest and led Rutte to issue stern warnings of a ‘domino effect’ across Europe and ‘chaos’ under Wilders. ‘PVV-voters, thank you!’ went his text. ‘We have won seats! The first win is in. And Rutte is far from rid of me!!’ He later told the NOS and television cameras: ‘I would rather, of course, have been the largest party...but we aren’t a party that has lost, but that has apparently won four or five seats. That’s a result to be proud of.’ He added that he did not understand Rutte’s warnings about ‘the wrong sort of populism’ and rejected the description of ‘populist’. ‘I want to be part of government but if that doesn’t happen, we still have more MPs in a growing party,’ he added, responding to the other major parties’ pre-election pledges not to work with him. Lodewijk Asscher The biggest loss in an election campaign ever was strongly felt by Lodewijk Asscher, leader of the Labour party, which dropped 29 seats to just nine and, probably, a place out of government. ‘This is a bitter evening for the Labour party,’ he told his party rally. ‘The result is unbelievably disappointing. A lot of voters have chosen to give their trust to another party, and we have to respect that.’ He stressed that the country has come better out of Labour’s coalition with the VVD in the past five years. ‘We will lick our wounds, support each other and undoubtedly will be able to laugh again, sooner than you think. Social democracy will come back and we’ll start building it today.’ Sybrand Buma and Alexander Pechtold Sybrand Buma, head of the CDA Christian democrats, who won six seats to be joint third on 19, said: ‘Nobody could have dreamed that the CDA would have such a good result. I am very proud. After this evening, the CDA will be one of the winners of the elections.’ But he added: ‘Tomorrow, the big task awaits. Because the Netherlands has concerns, and because the Dutch want an answer to these concerns. The CDA will rise to the challenge.' Alexander Pechtold, head of the D66 liberal democrats, who gained seven seats to be on 19, said: ‘This is a fantastic result. Not just for D66 or for the Netherlands. There was so much international press attention after Brexit, Trump, and they looked to the Netherlands, before French and German elections, for a signal on what the populists would do. In the Netherlands that noise was stopped.’ Jesse Klaver Jesse Klaver, the telegenic head of the GroenLinks green left party, didn’t forget to thank his wife when celebrating a win of 10 seats, taking them to 14 and making them the largest gainer in the electoral fragmentation. He told a rally in Amsterdam: ‘We led an extraordinary campaign, and I’m very happy with the result. I think more young people than ever went to the polls. We won more seats than we’ve ever had in the parliament. It’s a historic evening.’ Calling for respect for the other parties, and saying they will now have to work together, he added: ‘The [international] journalists all asked: “will populism break through in the Netherlands?” The answer is no. Populism didn’t break through.’  More >

Elections 2017: What the papers say

Elections 2017: What the Dutch papers say A beaming Mark Rutte features on the front page of all the Dutch papers on Thursday morning, with the exception of Trouw, which carries a dejected Lodewijk Asscher. ‘The centre wins’ the NRC headlines its election result analysis. ‘The Netherlands has woken up ‘a normal country’, in the words of VVD leader Mark Rutte,’ the paper writes. There has been no ‘populist revolt’, only a ‘couple of hammer blows’. Among the many parties and winners the NRC detects a clear trend: the centre dominates. ‘The patriotic spring announced by PVV leader Wilders has turned out to be a mirage. The Netherlands remains what it has essentially been for decades: many-facetted and largely moderate.’ The paper calls the loss suffered by former coalition party Labour party a ‘dramatic’ one. ‘Once a pillar of the post-war welfare state the party is now in an existential crisis’, the paper writes. The ten seat loss (it is actually eight, DN) for the VVD is another sign that being a governing party with a ‘dream budget’ doesn’t necessarily mean electoral gain. ‘Voters are motivated by more than economic success’, the NRC writes. Although Jesse Klaver’s GroenLinks did very well, a new coalition is likely to be made up of VVD, D66 and CDA and some of the smaller parties, at which point things may well get complicated. But it’s a complicated world and some of its complications, i.e. the diplomatic row with Turkey, have come uncomfortably close and the country needs a stable government as soon as possible, the paper concludes. Dominos ‘The Dutch domino tile hasn’t tumbled’ the Financieele Dagblad writes in its editorial. It appears most voters weren’t led by anger and although Labour was severely punished and the VVD won fewer seats compared to 2012 the ‘discontent is much less prevalent than many a pessimist had predicted,’ the FD writes. Nevertheless the formation will be a puzzle with at least four parties having to bury the hatchet and compromise to form a government. Concessions may disappoint voters but the wish to please everybody must not lead to loosening the economic reins, a temptation now that the economy is improving, the paper warns. The formation will probably take time, the FD predicts. ‘All parties will want to see their preferences in a new government agreement. The future coalition will not be able to avoid tackling the postponed or failed reforms of Rutte II: the modernisation of the labour market, the reform of the pension system and the tax system. And last but not least, an effective climate policy,’ the FD concludes. Right-wing 'The Netherlands wakes up a right-wing country this morning, with the VVD as the undisputed winner’, Trouw's  headline reads. Not as right-wing as the polls predicted, but  ‘the parties that call themselves left wing only have a combined 37 seats, an all-time low in a trend that was started at turn of the century,’ the paper writes. The main conclusion is that ‘it doesn’t pay to be in the cabinet and Rutte was not rewarded a ‘prime ministerial bonus’ for his performance in his last cabinet, says Trouw Labour’s ‘knock-out’ is a bitter pill for the party and will force it to ‘look long and hard at its raison d’être.’ The second important conclusion, according to Trouw is that ‘the Netherlands has shown itself once again to be a country in which moderation is key. ‘Our society is not open to extremism. The PVV and its hostility to the system gained far fewer seats than the polls led us to be believe.’ Complicated The Volkskrant also predicts a complicated formation. But although the cabinet has been given 'a chastisement of historic proportions' Mark Rutte has established his reputation as 'the man who halted the march of Brexit and the American elections in the Netherlands.' ‘With a little help form Ankara the VVD became the biggest party,’ Elsevier columnist Gerry van der List writes. Labour must now get rid of the people who failed to boost the party membership: ‘Asscher and Spekman need to go’, and while he is at it Van der List also predicts the imminent demise of Emile Roemer as SP leader. Trust The Telegraaf headlines its editorial 'trust'. Much has been said about the growing gulf between politicians and the population at large but the high turnout on Wednesday showed that the Dutch are still closely involved in government. After four years of cuts, party leaders must work carefully to ensure that they do not set aside voter interests in their efforts to form a coalition too quickly. It is now crucial that political leaders do not shame that trust, the paper concludes. Foreign press The foreign press, who were in the Netherlands en masse, have also interpreted the election results a defeat of populism. ‘Rutte is Europe’s hero for a night’, reads the headline in Die Welt. CNN concludes that extremism has ‘failed at the first hurdle’ while the BBC captions a picture of a smiling Rutte with ‘prime minister Rutte celebrates the rejection of populism’. The Guardian has proclaimed GroenLinks, led by ‘the Jessiah’ as the big winner of the Dutch elections. The Turkish paper Daily Sabah, which had described Geert Wilders as ‘islamophobe’ and ‘xenophobe’, said his performance was ‘unexpectedly disappointing’ in the wake of the diplomatic row between Turkey and the Netherlands.  More >

VVD wins 33 seats but Labour is hammered

VVD wins 33 seats but coalition partner Labour is hammered Prime minister Mark Rutte claimed victory in the Dutch general election on Wednesday night and with 93% of the votes counted, is set to win 33 seats in the 150 seat lower house of parliament. His nearest rival, Geert Wilders and the PVV, polled 20 seats, or 13.3% of the vote, in what is being seen as a major blow to the rise of European populism. Nevertheless, this is an increase on his vote in 2012, when Wilders scored 15 seats. The Christian Democrats and D66 are both polling 19 seats while the big winner of the night is GroenLinks, whose leader Jesse Klaver helped propel the party from four to 14 seats. The VVD may remain the biggest party, but their support is down eight seats on 2012, reflecting some voter unhappiness at the performance of the current coalition. The big blow, however, was to coalition partner Labour (PvdA), which saw support plummet from 38 to just nine seats, or seventh place. In total, 13 parties have won seats in parliament. Newcomer Denk took three and Forum voor Democratie, a far-right anti EU party which was involved in the anti Ukraine treaty campaign, won two. Coalition The results mean that four parties will be needed to form a new coalition government with majority support in parliament. If the VVD presses ahead to try and form a government with the CDA and D66, ChristenUnie would a logical partner, commentators said on Thursday morning. However, the combination would only have a majority of one, and that would make the coalition vulnerable. The results so far: VVD 33 (41) PVV 20 (15) CDA 19 (13) D66 19 (12) SP 14 (13) GroenLinks 14 (4) PvdA 9 (38) ChristenUnie 5 (5) PvdD 5 (2) 50Plus 4 (2) SGP 3 (3) Denk 3 FvD 2  More >

Amsterdam goes GroenLinks, Denk gains

Election 2017 The decline of the Labour party is particularly marked in its stronghold big cities. In Amsterdam, for example, GroenLinks is now the biggest party, followed by D66 and the VVD. Denk, the new party formed by two ex Labour MPs of Turkish origin, has overtaken the PvdA in both Rotterdam and The Hague and is bigger than the PVV in Amsterdam, with 7.5% of the vote. ‘The new Netherlands has been given a voice in parliament’, Denk leader Tunahan Kuzu said as the results came in. The PVV, which did not make the breakthrough many expected, was the biggest party in a handful of local authority areas, largely in the east of Groningen and Drenthe, and in the south, where Wilders originates. In particular, the PVV emerged as the biggest party in Maastricht and Venlo. Check out how your town voted  More >