Election Day in the Netherlands: Mark Rutte wins for the fourth time!

From Monday 15 March to Wednesday 17 March 2021, the Netherlands held its national election for the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer). Usually, the election would span only one day.

Due to Covid-19, however, the government decided to open the polling stations early in order to avoid crowds and allow for those in risk groups to safely vote. The Netherlands has had a demissionary cabinet (a type of caretaker cabinet) since 15 January of this year, as a result of the Dutch childcare benefits scandal. So it was time for new elections to form a ‘real’ cabinet again.

37 parties in total registered to take part in the national elections this year. There are currently 13 parties who hold seats in the House, of which the biggest are VVD and PVV. Following the election results, four new parties will join: BIJ1 (one seat), BoerBurgerBeweging (one seat), VOLT (three seats), and JA21 (three seats). The 17 parties that will make up the new House is a record high number, but has also resulted in a fragmentation where only three of these parties won more than 10% of the votes.

Housing Market
One of the main points during the elections was the housing shortage in the Netherlands, and how the parties plan on tackling this. As we’ve previously written, rental and purchase prices are growing more and more expensive, particularly in the major cities. The main points on the housing market in this year’s election programs were the construction of new housing opportunities, mortgage interest rate reduction, housing costs, landlord levies, and sustainability.

Of the three biggest parties, the VVD (prime minister Rutte’s party) wants more new housing construction and more rental properties, as well as a lowered tax on the energy bill, an upper limit for housing costs, and adjustments to the landlord levies. The second biggest party, D66, wants to focus on more construction elsewhere in the country to relieve the pressure on the housing market in the Randstad. They also want to taper off the mortgage interest reduction and to stimulate the financing of sustainable houses and climate-neutral building materials. Lastly, the PVV wants to make more land available to build homes for different target groups. They also want to regulate rent, keep the mortgage interest reduction and to stop with regulating rules relating to climate, environment and nitrogen.

Final Results
After the three days of voting, Mark Rutte saw his Party (VVD) hold onto their majority in the House of Representatives, setting him up for a fourth term as prime minister of the Netherlands. D66, with party leader Sigrid Kaag, has come in as the second biggest party, winning four seats more than they previously held to come to a total of 24 seats. The third and last party to win over 10% of the votes was PVV, who lost three seats to come to a total of 17.

Behind these three parties, CDA, SP, 50PLUS and GroenLinks all lost seats, with GroenLinks taking the biggest hit. FvD and PvdD win seats, and PvdA, CU, SGP and DENK all keep the same amount of seats as they already had.

The next step now is to form the coalition. The political parties that make up the cabinet are called coalition parties, while the parties in the House that are not part of the cabinet are called the opposition parties. Mark Rutte has already said that he will be in talks with both D66 and CDA to form the coalition, however these three parties alone do not have enough seats to make up a House majority. There are several other parties that could be asked to join, so the final formation will remain to be seen. The process of forming a coalition takes an average of 94 days, although a faster formation is desirable as the demissionary cabinet will remain in function until a new cabinet is formed. The fastest formation of a coalition was in 1948, when it took only 31 days. The longest formation happened after the previous elections in 2017, when it took 225 days (roughly seven months).

If you have any questions on the housing shortage or on buying and renting in the Netherlands, our Relocation team is happy to help! As part of our Settling-In service, we offer assistance with information and tips on Dutch culture and on living in the Netherlands. Please do not hesitate to reach out at: relo@expatmanagementgroup.com or via EMG’s website at: https://expatmanagementgroup.com/ 

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