The Netherlands goes to the polls today to elect new members of the 12 provincial councils and the 23 water boards.
Only Dutch nationals can vote in the provincial elections, but the water board vote is also open to other residents. The polling stations opened at 07.30 hours and close at 21.00 hours.
The winners in the provincial vote will go on to elect the 75 members of the senate in May. This means their role is crucial – the current coalition government does not have a majority in the upper house of parliament and relies on the help of opposition parties to get legislation through.
However, opinion polls show the coalition – made up of the right-wing VVD Liberals and the Labour party – will lose a large number of seats in the senate, making it even more difficult to pass controversial policy.
Although the ruling VVD is currently ahead, with a forecast 12 senate seats, the anti-Islam PVV is on 11. The Christian Democrats (CDA), Socialists and Liberal democrats (D66) are all on target to win 10, making the vote a close-run thing.
Turnout in the provincial elections is usually around 55%.
The provinces receive money from central government to manage nature areas, build and maintain cycle paths, oversee provincial public transport and promote the arts and culture.
The water boards (waterschappen) regulate how public money is spent on ensuring a clean water supply and making sure the country does not flood.
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