Councillors in almost half of the Netherlands local authorities have broken away from the party they were elected for, and set up their own, in the 3.5 years since the last local elections, according to research by the NRC.
The paper has been following 318 of the Netherlands’ 351 local authority areas since 2018 and found breakaway parties were formed in 45.6% of them. This means there are now, the paper says, 150 local parties with seats on councils which no-one voted for.
The NRC cites the situation in Hoorn, where 14 parties divided up the 35 seats between them in the 2018 local elections.
Since then one VVD and one GroenLinks councillor have both set up their own parties and a CDA councillor was expelled from her party and did the same. Two local parties merged and two others started an alliance, while a councillor for Hoorns Belang joined the CDA.
‘The council still has 14 parties, but very different parties from those voted for in 2018,’ the paper points out.
New elections will be held in the 218 council areas next March. There is no vote in 34 because they have held elections more recently because of boundary changes.
Meanwhile, research by local government institute Coelo has found that when two or more local councils merge, turnout in the elections is lower.
If turnout is around 60% in local council elections before the merger, it shrinks to less than 58% afterwards, Coelo found. There is also an impact on turnout in the national elections.
While the change would appear small, it does highlight an important issue, researcher and Groningen University professor Maarten Allers told RTV Noord. ‘Democracy is as strong as the community. And if people decide not to vote after a boundary change, then that is a problem for democracy.’
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