UPDATE DUTCH POLITICS: Frans Timmermans’ Labour wins Dutch EU elections

Pro-EU Labour beats PM Rutte and eurosceptics


Voter turnout higher than last EU elections (2014)

Yesterday (23 May) the Netherlands voted for the EU Elections of 2019, electing 26 Members of the European Parliament (29 Members in case of Brexit). According to the last exit polls somewhere around 41% of eligible voters found their way to the polls, which is more than the last EU elections in 2014 (37,3%), but much less than the provincial elections in 2019 (55%).

Following the provincial elections in March 2019, this election was characterized by two things:

  1. The clash of two right-wing parties: Forum for Democracy (the big winner of last years’ provincial elections) and the VVD / Liberal Conservatives – the party of Prime Minister Rutte.
  2. The uniformity of the left – with two Spitzenkandidaten (Frans Timmermans – S&D, and Bas Eickhout – Greens).
    Clash of the right

Before election day all eyes were on the long-awaited confrontation between PM Mark Rutte (VVD) and Thierry Baudet (leader of the Eurosceptic party Forum for Democracy). Their one-on-one debate on the evening before election day was highly anticipated and made other parties look like sidekicks.

However, it now seems that this didn’t help these right-wing parties to win, as the VVD won 4 seats and Forum for Democracy 3 – which is less than Labour (5). Geert Wilders’ PVV was the biggest loser, dropping from 4 to 1 seat.

Uniformity on the left leads left-wing voters to Timmermans

On the left, it was a lot harder for voters. About two weeks ago, the Dutch voters’ decision aid (a questionnaire amongst parties to help voters decide) revealed that two of the main left-wing parties – Labour (Frans Timmermans’ party) and GroenLinks (Bas Eickhout’s) – entered identical answers to all 60 questions. This confirmed the lack of differences between left-wing parties – which also includes D66 (Liberal Democrats).

When voters are confused, they often look for a face they recognize, and Frans Timmermans is arguably the most recognizable European face for the Dutch. Coming from 3 seats the exit polls put his Labour at a surprising 5. This means their current MEPs (Paul Tang, Kati Piri, and Agnes Jongerius) hold their seats – and two more (including newcomer Vera Tax) will be in as well.

Spitzenkanditaten do well – but Timmermans’ future unclear

It is far too early to say what this result means for Timmermans’ Spitzenkandidatur. He came from far, and pulled in votes, but not many expect this will result in a seat as President of the European Commission.

Notably, Bas Eickhout’s GroenLinks (Greens) gained a seat. He shared his Spitzenkandidatur with Ska Keller for the Greens.

New European Parliament to be installed 2 July

Although 23 May 2019 was voting day in the Netherlands, the elections last untill the 26th. The official results (of the elections in all member states) will be determined on 4 June, after which the new European Parliament will be installed on 2 July.

Results of the exit polls

The results below are based on the last exit polls, which means that the final results could differ (a bit). The list compares the results of these elections with to the results of the last EU elections (in 2014). It should be taken into account that the electoral threshold is around 4%.

  • D66 / Liberal Democrats (ALDE) = 6,3% (15,5% in 2014)
  • VVD / Liberal Conservatives (ALDE) = 15% (12,0% in 2014)
  • CDA / Christian Democrats (EPP) = 12,3% (15,2% in 2014)
  • PVV / Freedom Party (ECR) = 4,1% (13,3% in 2014)
  • SP / Socialists = 3,9% (9,6% in 2014)
  • PvdA / Labour (S&D) = 18,1% (9,4% in 2014)
  • CU-SGP / Christian Conservatives (ECH) = 7,9% (7,7% in 2014)
  • GroenLinks / Greens Left (Greens) = 10,5% (7,0% in 2014)
  • PvdD / Animal party (APE/EUL-NGL) = 3,6% (4,2% in 2014)
  • 50PLUS / Elderly Party = 4,1% (3,7% in 2014)
  • FvD / Right-wing Eurosceptics = 11,0% (N/A in 2014)
  • Other = 3,3% (2,4% in 2014)

Pro-EU Labour beats PM Rutte and eurosceptics

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