Friday 25 September 2020

Campaign trail: Dutch abroad sign up to vote in record numbers

Photo: A J Luijten

The Netherlands goes to the polls to elect a new lower house of parliament in 20 days time. Here’s an update of the main campaign news on Thursday.

Dutch abroad

A record 77,500 Dutch nationals who either live abroad or will be away on holiday have signed up to vote on March 15. In 2012, fewer than 50,000 Dutch expats registered to vote.

D66 parliamentary hopeful Eelco Keij, who campaigns for the rights of Dutch expats, says both his and other parties cannot afford to longer disregard the Dutch abroad. ‘Both politically and in electoral terms, they are now a factor of importance,’ said Keij, who is hoping to get elected on preference votes.

Expat ruling under threat

The ruling VVD is the only party with no plans to change the 30% tax ruling for expats, according to an analysis of the various party manifestos, quoted by the Financieele Dagblad.

The PvdA, Socialists, Christian Democrats, GroenLinks and several minor parties want to scrap the scheme entirely, while others are proposing cuts. Last year, the national audit office said it is completely unclear what the benefits of the scheme, which costs some €800m a year, actually are.

More older voters

The over-65s account for 24% of the 12.9 million people eligible to vote in the March 15 general election, the national statistics office CBS says.

Pensioners are also the most likely to actually vote. In 2012, 86% of the over-65s voted, compared with 71% of the under-35s. 50Plus and the CDA drew the most pensioner votes last time round.

50Plus pickle

50Plus leader Henk Krol appears to have gotten himself in a bit of a pickle over the party’s pledge to reduce the pension age back to 65 – something which he had made a condition of joining a coalition government.

Earlier this week, the party itself sent out a report which shows reducing the pension age cannot be done unless the state pension is reduced… something which it had always strenuously denied. Krol himself then said that reducing the state pension age would be about ‘choosing the lesser of two evils’.

50Plus had been projected to win up eight to 10 seats in the 150 seat parliament.

Environmental efforts

A report commissioned by three environmental groups – Greenpeace, Milieudefensie and Natuur & Milieu – says transport is responsible for over 25% of Dutch carbon dioxide emissions.

The three groups are calling on the next coalition to commit itself to ensuring that this does not go up even further, as it is predicted to do. Instead the next government should introduce extra taxes on flying, road pricing (tax per kilometre) and reduce the speed limit.

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