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Where Are the Battlegrounds in the Dutch Election?

March 15,2017 11:24

Labor took 41 percent in the Frisian capital, Leeuwarden, in 2012 and 36.5 percent in the region's biggest city, Groningen. Labor was still ahead in Leeuwarden in the 2015 provincial elections but the Socialist Party, further left than Labor, took top ...and more »


In the last election in 2012, Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberals emerged as the largest party while Labor, his eventual coalition partner, swept the big cities. This year's election is looking much more open.Wilders StrongholdThe Freedom Party puts up its strongest showing in Limburg in the relatively hilly southeast, an area where the Christian Democrats used to win big. Geert Wilders's party topped 20 percent of the vote in Venlo, his birthplace, in 2012, and came close in other big towns. But it did less well -- under 15 percent -- in the biggest city, Maastricht, a place synonymous with the ideal of European unity Wilders rails against.The North Was RedThe further north you go, the greater the traditional dominance of the Labor Party. Where will those votes go this year now Labor support has collapsed after four years as junior coalition partner? Labor took 41 percent in the Frisian capital, Leeuwarden, in 2012 and 36.5 percent in the region’s biggest city, Groningen. Labor was still ahead in Leeuwarden in the 2015 provincial elections but the Socialist Party, further left than Labor, took top spot in Groningen. This is the Freedom Party’s weak spot -- less than 5 percent in Groningen in 2012.Bible Belt
There’s a strip across the central Netherlands that’s home to a significant conservative Protestant population, and this is where two religious-based parties draw the bulk of their votes. In the historic fishing port of Urk, the Calvinist Reformed Political Party took 51 percent in 2012, with the Christian Union second on 18 percent. The best-performing mainstream party? The Christian Democrats.D66 on Rise in AmsterdamThe Netherlands’ biggest city is a traditional Labor heartland, but will the centrist D66 take top spot this year? Labor took 36 percent in 2012, compared with 19.5 percent for Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals. The Freedom Party took just 6 percent. D66 took 15 percent last time but they won both the local and provincial votes in 2014 and 2015.Wilders Victory in Rotterdam?As in Amsterdam, Labor has lost its dominance in the Netherlands’ second city. It took 32 percent in 2012, ahead of the Liberals on 20.5 percent, but the 2015 provincial elections saw the Freedom Party topping the poll, ahead of D66. Europe’s biggest port has a history of backing maverick politicians; it’s where Pim Fortuyn rose to prominence before he was murdered in 2002.Liberals Winning HereIf you’re looking for a typical place where Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal Party rules the roost, it could be Wassenaar, nestled between The Hague and Leiden in South Holland and one of the richest towns in the entire country. More than 52 percent voted Liberal in 2012. In the Hague itself, the seat of the Dutch parliament and government, the battle may be between the Liberals and D66, which both polled 18 percent in provincial elections two years ago.Green Breakthrough?Green leader Jesse Klaver has drawn comparisons with Canada's Justin Trudeau. One city his party will be targeting is Nijmegen in the east, where the Greens came joint top in local elections with the Socialists in 2014. In the 2012 parliamentary vote, Labor was the clear winner, as in many other big cities.With assistance from Anne van der Schoot and Corina RuheFull Party Names:VVD  - People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (Liberals)PvdA - Labor PartyPVV -  Party for FreedomCDA - Christian DemocratsCU - Christian UnionSGP - Reformed PartySP - Socialist Party

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