Besides the arrival of Spring and carnival, March represents the start of a period of political campaigns and debates in the Netherlands. The Provincial Council elections (“de Provinciale Statenverkiezingen”) are scheduled to be held on the 20th of March. How does it work and who do we actually vote for?
How does it work?
Eligible voters elect members of the Provincial Councils (“Provinciale Staten”) in the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. The main task of the councils is to control the province's administration as carried out by the Provincial Executive Councils (“Gedeputeerde Staten”). The executive councils, appointed by the Provincial Councils themselves, are responsible for the day-to-day management of the province and consists of a minimum of three and a maximum of nine executives. The King's Commissioner (René Paas, CDA) chairs the councils and is appointed by the Dutch government for a period of 6 years.
The Provincial elections indirectly determine the composition of the Senate (“de Eerste Kamer”), since the members of the twelve Provincial Councils will elect the Senate's 75 members in the Senate elections on the 27th of May. Because of this, this month’s elections will be a test for the third Rutte cabinet, which currently has a majority of one seat in the Senate.
To be eligible to vote you must be older that 18 and have Dutch citizenship. All non-Dutch nationals legally residing in the Netherlands may vote in the elections for the water boards (“de waterschapsverkiezingen”), which are held on the same day. The water boards are charged with managing water barriers, waterways, water levels, water quality and sewage treatment.
What are the top issues?
General subjects such as safety on provincial roads are important items on the agenda throughout all provinces. As far as Groningen is concerned, citizens of the province are mainly interested in themes such as gas production and the associated earthquake problems and damage, energy transition and the municipal reorganization.
For more detailed information in English on all Dutch political parties, go to the Expatica website. The website of the Province of Groningen gives a general overview of the top issues during these elections and offers an online tool (only in Dutch) to compare the competing parties. The competing parties are:
- SP (Socialist Party): held 8 seats in the period between 2015-2019, part of the coalition
- PvdA (The Labour Party): held 6 seats in the period between 2015-2019
- CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal): held 5 seats in the period between 2015-2019, part of the coalition
- ChristenUnie (The Christian Union): held 4 seats in the period between 2015-2019, part of the coalition
- D66 (Democrats 66): held 4 seats in the period between 2015-2019, part of the coalition
- VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy): held 4 seats in the period between 2015-2019
- GroenLinks (Green Left): held 4 seats in the period between 2015-2019, part of the coalition
- Groninger Belang (Groninger Interest): held 3 seats in the period between 2015-2019
- PVV (The Freedom Party): held 3 seats in the period between 2015-2019
- Partij voor de Dieren (Party for the Animals): held 2 seats in the period between 2015-2019
- Partij voor het Noorden (Party for the North): held 1 seat in the period between 2015-2019
- 50 Plus
- Forum voor Democratie (Forum for Democracy)
- DENK (THINK)