Votes in the general election are still being counted and the official result is still some days away, but the process of putting a new coalition together is about to begin. Here’s what you need to know.
Firstly, will Geert Wilders be the next prime minister of the Netherlands? His party may have won 23% of the vote, and be by far the biggest in the lower house of parliament, but there are a whole load of bridges to cross before then.
Later on Thursday, the leaders of all the parties which have won seats will meet parliamentary chairwoman Vera Bergkamp to decide who should be the verkenner – a senior statesman or women who looks into possible government coalitions in the days after a general election.
The verkenner holds talks with party leaders to sound them out on potential partnerships.
Once a potential coalition has been identified, the verkenner suggests a potential informateur, an appointment which has to be approved by the new house of parliament. He or she will then carry out the detailed negotiations with the parties likely to form a new cabinet.
This might be a speedy process, but given the shock result and the fact so many parties have said they won’t work with Wilders, it could take weeks. VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz has made it very clear that it is up to Wilders to take the lead.
When that process has been completed, the formateur – effectively the next prime minister – comes on board. They will then get down to the nitty gritty of working out a coalition agreement.
This can take months, during which time the new MPs have to deal with ministers who are in caretaker functions – as the current cabinet has been since resigning over the cutting asylum numbers. So nothing really gets done and the country seems to function perfectly well.
Once the new government has been finalised, it will publish its regeerakkoord – a document outlining all the plans that the new government has agreed on. This is usually a mish-mash of political compromises plus a host of new policies which no-one ever voted for but which seem to suit the new mood.
Who becomes an MP?
That’s the cabinet, but who actually gets a seat in parliament? That can depend on how many votes they got. MPs are chosen according to their place on an official list of candidates.
However, if an MP lower down the list gets a lot of preference votes – more than 25% of the electoral quota, to be technical about it – he or she will move up the list and win a seat in parliament by pushing someone else out.
In total, 26 parties appeared on the ballot paper, but only those beating the electoral quota will end up with an MP. This is calculated by dividing the overall number of votes cast by 150. In the last election that was 69,485 – so that a party scoring more votes than that was certain of at least one seat in parliament.
Any remaining votes are divided up according to a very complicated formula. Some parties agree to transfer their excess votes to another party so that they can benefit from the extra support and win a seat.
The new-look parliament will be sworn in on December 6 and will have to decide what to do about all the legislation which is still waiting in the wings. The current stock of MPs say their farewells on December 5.
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation