Centre-left coalition set to control Senate

Dutch voters go to the polls for the third time in a year on Wednesday, this time to elect 12 new regional governments, the Provinciale Staten.

The latest opinion polls suggest that while the two main opposition parties in parliament – the Socialist Party and the right-wing Liberals (VVD) – are set to do well, the new centre-left coalition will have a majority in the 75-seat Eerste Kamer or Senate.
The make-up of the Senate is decided by the 564 members of the provincial governments. That vote will be taken on May 29.
News from the opinion polls will be a boost for the new government’s plans; the SP and VVD have already threatened to form an alliance to stop the government’s state pension tax plans when they are put before the upper house.
The upper house is technically there to check legislation, not reject bills which have already been approved by the lower house.
All parties represented in parliament are taking part in the provincial elections, apart from Geert Wilder’s anti-immigration PVV. Its supporters say they will either not vote, or go for the VVD which has adopted a tough line on dual nationality.
Turnout is likely to be low: it was 47% in the March 2003 vote. Only the 2004 European parliamentary election, at just 39%, has been lower.
The provincial governments are charged with developing region-wide policy, largely concerning planning and transport. Youth social work departments are also organised on a provincial basis.

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