Today general elections (for parliament) are held in the Netherlands. These are politically exciting/nervous times, since the electorate has polarized quite significantly. Until a few weeks back, the polls showed two main contenders to win the elections – the SP (socialists—some believe that one could also describe them as oldfashioned social-democrats) and the VVD (nominally a liberal party, but it’s more accurate to describe it as a right-wing conservative party). Yet the SP has lost drastically in the polls in the last weeks, to the advantage of the PVDA, the social-democratic party. This is probably due to the strong performance of Diederik Samson, leader of the PVDA, and the rather weak impression made by Emile Roemer, leader of the SP. The center-liberal party D66 is doing fine, but the Christian-democrats (CDA) and the greens (Groen-Links) are expected to suffer major losses. PVV, the populist-rightwing party of Geert Wilders will keep its significant size. (For a bar chart of a recent poll, go here)
The elections are not just important for the Netherlands itself, but also for Europe and beyond—and not only because there are 12.500 people with voting rights in Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius. Until now the outgoing cabinet has been an ally of Germany in their response to the Euro-crisis; but with a changing coalition in power, this may change too. SP is strongly against Europe, as is the PVV (Wilders has shifted his focus from anti-islam to anti-Europe).
It’ll be interesting to see what will happen to Dutch political landscape once the election results are known. The local media are reporting that many voters are really at a loss in deciding for whom to vote (swing/floating voters). I know several people who have always voted either for the Greens or D66 who are now voting PVDA, since they care more about not having a coalition led by the VVD rather than the (ideological, practical and strategic) disagreements between their favorite party and the main non-conservative party (being PVDA). To be continued.