Coalition keeps senate majority

The three government parties are set to hold on to a slim majority in the 75-seat upper house of parliament (senate) following Wednesday’s provincial elections.

The members of the 12 provincial councils will elect the 75 senators in three months time. After 80% of the vote had been counted, the Christian Democrats (CDA), Labour (PvdA) and ChristenUnie were in line to win 41 seats. They currently hold 44.
Both the CDA and PvdA lost support but the orthodox CU was set to double its seats in the senate. The election is seen by observers as as a referendum on the new government. ‘It is a hefty loss,’ said Han Noten, leader of the PvdA in the senate. The party is forecast to lose four of its 19 seats.
The biggest gainer by 10.30 pm was the Socialist Party which more than doubled its vote in some areas. It is on target to win 12 seats in the senate, compared with just four in its current make-up. The pro-animal rights PvdD was also in the running to take one seat. Support for the right-wing VVD was unchanged on 15.
If the coalition parties had lost their majority in the senate it would have been ‘extremely tricky’ for the centre-left government, TV pundit Ferry Mingelen said.
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s assertion that the senate’s job is to be restrained when looking at government policy was not true, Mingelen said. ‘The senate can do what it likes. No where in the consitution does it say it has to take a back seat,’ he told NOS TV.
The SP and right-wing VVD have already vowed they will join forces to fight state pension reforms.
Turnout was around 46%.

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