Sunday 25 August 2019

Campaign trail: computer counting, armed drones and 13 million voters

Photo: J M Luijt at Dutch Wikipedia

The Netherlands goes to the polls to elect a new government on March 15. Here’s a round-up of the day’s other campaign news so far.

Counting computers

Computers will be used to do the final vote counting after the March 15 general election, home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk told MPs on Wednesday. Plasterk had said computers would not be used after broadcaster RTL showed the counting software could be easily hacked.

Main polling stations will, however, be allowed to use spread sheets to reach the final vote tallies per district as long as the computer are not linked to the internet, Plasterk said.

Martin Bosma and Steven Bannon

Martin Bosma, said by some to be the main brains behind the PVV and its bid for power, has given a rare interview to the AD. The paper asked what he thought about being compared to Steve Bannon, the founder of right-wing website Breitbart and US president Trump’s chief strategist.

‘Me, the Bannon of the Netherlands? Well, perhaps,’ was Bosma’s reply, before adding that Wilders has many other advisors within the party.

Almost 13 million voters

A record 12.9 million people will be eligible to vote in the general election, up 300,000 on the last national vote in 2012. The total includes 850,000 first-time voters and 75,000 Dutch nationals who live abroad.

PVV VVD gap narrows

The gap between the ruling VVD and Geert Wilders’ PVV has narrowed in the latest poll of polls, an amalgam of five different opinion polls. The latest edition of the Peilingwijzer puts the PVV on 25 to 29 seats and the VVD on 23 to 27. The gap between the two parties has now shrunk to just two.

GroenLinks, the CDA and D66 all tie for third place with 15 to 17 seats. A new entrant in the poll of polls is Thierry Baudet’s Forum voor Democratie, which may win one seat.

CDA want armed drones

Christian Democrat leader Sybrand Buma wants to up spending on defence by €2bn a year including €100m to buy armed drones. The Dutch army currently uses drones for reconnaissance but not to carry out bombing raids.

‘The radical violence which threatens us demands 21st century resources and that is the armed drone,’ Buma said.

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