The Dutch Green Party has made considerable gains in yesterday’s provincial elections (20 March), winning 60 seats across all 12 Dutch provinces and becoming the largest party in two of them.
GroenLinks (Green Left) became the largest party in Amsterdam, with 26 per cent of the vote, as well as in Utrecht, the site of a suspected terrorist shooting earlier this week, where 27.8 per cent voted for the Greens.
In Utrecht, Greens are now level with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party, People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), with eight seats in the state assembly. In addition, GroenLinks is also level with the VVD and far-right party Forum for Democracy in North Holland on nine seats.
While the Green surge would ordinarily take the headlines, the majority of newspaper column inches and trending hashtags will be dedicated to Forum for Democracy, which won the most votes across the country in a shock result.
The party was only formed in 2016 and is led by 36-year-old Thierry Baudet, the frontman for a campaign that ran on an anti-migrant, anti-EU and anti-climate change platform. Baudet has been a proponent of Dutch-first cultural, social and economic policies, including dropping the euro and leaving the EU.
And the results of the provincial elections look set to have a significant impact on the make-up of the Dutch Government. While provinces are largely responsible for spatial planning, the members of the 12 provincial state assemblies elect the members of the Dutch Senate, where the ruling coalition led by the VVD currently holds a one seat majority.
As it stands, GroenLinks looks likely to take eight seats in the Senate out of a total 75, while Forum for Democracy is set to surge ahead with 12 seats, the same number as that held by the ruling VVD. The final make-up of the Senate is set to be decided in May.
While the success of Forum for Democracy provides further evidence of an increase in support for far-right parties across Europe, with populist and far-right parties expected to make significant gains in May’s European Parliament elections, the results of the provincial elections could open up an opportunity for GroenLinks to influence government policy. Other major parties have ruled out working with Forum for Democracy, meaning the ruling coalition may have to look left to the Greens in order to pass legislation through the Senate.