Dutch general election, 2006
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There are a total of one hundred fifty seats (zetels) in the second chamber of the Dutch parliament (Tweede Kamer). The elections proved relatively successful for the governing Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) which remained the largest party with 41 seats, a loss of only 3 seats. The largest increase in seats was for the Socialist Party (SP), which went from 9 to 25 seats. The main opposition party, the social-democratic Labour Party (PvdA) lost 9 of its 42 seats, while the right-liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the progressive liberal Democrats 66 lost a considerable portion of their seats, 6 of 28 and 3 of 6 respectively. New parties, such as the right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV) of former VVD MP Geert Wilders and the animal rights party Party for the Animals (PvdD) were also successful, with the PVV winning 9 seats and the PvdD winning 2, thereby becoming the first animal rights group to enter a European parliament.<ref>Dutch animal rights party wins 2 seats in election, Reuters, November 23, 2006</ref>
It is generally expected that the formation of a new cabinet will be difficult, as no two parties can form a majority in parliament together.
 Issues at stake
The main issue at stake during the elections was the economic performance of the right-center Second Balkenende cabinet — which consisted of the Christian-democratic CDA, the conservative liberal VVD and the progressive liberal D66 — as well as the composition of the new government and the future of the Dutch economy. Other issues were integration and the environment.
 Power question
The most important question of the elections was which party would become the largest, the governing Christian-democratic CDA or the main opposition party, the social-democratic PvdA. This was similar to the situation of the elections of 2003. The largest party will have the initiative in the cabinet formation talks. Furthermore, if it becomes part of the cabinet, the largest party supplies the prime minister. The media have framed the elections as a 'Clash of the Titans' between prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende (CDA) and candidate prime minister Wouter Bos (PvdA).
Both parties had consciously kept their options open and expressed a preference for the composition of a new cabinet. The other parties did express clear preferences: the VVD wanted to continue to govern with the CDA, while the Socialist Party and the GreenLeft (GL) wanted to form a leftist coalition, the so-called Left-wing Spring. Broadly speaking, it appeared that there were three options: a continuation of the third Balkendende cabinet with CDA and VVD, a left-wing coalition of PvdA, SP and GL or a centre-left coalition of PvdA and CDA.
In 2004 and 2005, the polls indeed indicated that the united left could gain a majority in the Tweede Kamer. The polls predicted two head-to-head races. One between the PvdA and ruling CDA and another between the left-wing bloc (PvdA, SP, GreenLeft) and the right-wing bloc (CDA, VVD) with neither gaining a majority. Early November polls however showed that the CDA was gaining on and surpassing the PvdA. Mid-November polls indicated that the PvdA was bleeding votes to the SP while the CDA remained more or less stable. The left- and right-wing blocks remained in an equilibrium with neither side gaining enough votes for an overall majority. Small centrist parties such as the ChristianUnion could play a decisive role.
The day before the elections, about one third of the electorate had not yet made up their minds, resulting in polls giving strongly varying indications. For this reason campaigning continued on election day itself. An aspect of this was tactical voting, with SP telling PvdA voters that a strong SP would force PvdA to form a left-wing coalition, VVD saying something similar to CDA voters concerning a right-wing coalition, PvdA and CDA saying they needed to be strong to prevent the other party from forming or dominating a coalition and ChristianUnion saying it has the best cards to participate in any coalition. Shortly before the elections, PvdA leader Bos showed himself more interested in the much talked about left-wing coalition of PvdA, SP and GroenLinks (possibly with ChristenUnie), which he had refused to talk about for months.
 Social-economic issues
The debates were dominated by social-economic questions and especially the performance of the Balkenende cabinets.
In the last four years the three Balkenende cabinets had implemented an ambitious program of social-economic reforms, including tax cuts, reforms to the social welfare system and investments in education. Their aim was to jump start the Dutch economy. Initially there was great public dissatisfaction with this policy, with large demonstrations in 2003, 2004 and 2005 by the main labour union FNV and the three main opposition parties. They criticised the government for taking these measures at the wrong point in time, during a recession, and they claimed that the government made the poor and socially weaker pay for the economic recovery. A major focus of this debate was on the fact that more than 10% of the people were said to live in poverty, as exemplified by the rising number of 'voedselbanken' (give-away shops for food). As the economy began to perform better in 2006 the public dissatisfaction decreased.
There were roughly three positions on the future of the Dutch economy. The CDA claimed that the reforms were finished and that the following cabinet would not have to take any serious measures. The VVD wanted to continue reforming to increase the performance of the Dutch economy. They wanted to continue to cut taxes and reduce bureaucracy. The opposition parties PvdA, SP, GL, joined by the ChristianUnion wanted to revert some of the measures and pay more attention to the public sector, especially to the health care-sector and the poor. The PvdA and the GreenLeft however also announced that they wanted to reform part of the economy and welfare system. For instance several months before the elections, Wouter Bos, the leader of Labour Party, announced that he wanted to tax the elderly pension in such a way that rich elderly would pay more taxes on their pensions than poor elderly. The Dutch pension system consists of government supplied (AOW) and mandatory self-saved pensions. It is the latter portion Bos wanted to tax progressively. The proposal led to considerable controversy, both outside and within Bos' own party. Former minister and de Volkskrant columnist Marcel van Dam wrote a critical column on 22 June concerning Bos' proposal.<ref>(Dutch) Van Dam, M. De bejaardenbelasting van Bos, De Volkskrant, June 22, 2006</ref> The second man of the Christian Democratic Appeal Maxime Verhagen used soundbites from the proposal continually to emphasise that the PvdA was an unreliable partner for the elderly.<ref>(Dutch) Van ‘bejaardenbelasting’ tot ‘regelrutter’, De Volkskrant, September 29, 2006</ref> Bos later moderated his plans: only new cases would pay taxes over their pension.<ref>(Dutch) ‘Opportunisme domineert het debat’, De Volkskrant, September 1, 2006</ref>
 Immigration and integration
Immigration and integration, which had dominated the 2002 and 2003 elections, were clearly less important during these elections.
The focus was on the policy of Rita Verdonk, minister of immigration and integration, who had reduced the influx of immigrants and implemented mandatory integration courses for migrants. Verdonk's attitudes toward immigrants were again in the spotlight after her treatment of the crisis around the naturalisation of Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali caused the cabinet to fall.
In the debates one issue was especially important: the treatment of 26,000 asylum seekers which had been in legal procedures for over five years. The left-wing opposition parties PvdA, SP, GL and CU, joined by former coalition-partner D66 wanted a general pardon for this group, granting them all a residence permit. The CDA, VVD and the smaller right-wing parties of Geert Wilders and Marco Pastors opposed such a permit because it would attract illegal immigrants. Minister Verdonk claimed that she had actually already taken care of these 26,000 asylum seekers, sending many back to their own country and granting many a residence permit.
A minor issue was the ban on burqas and other face-covering clothing in public which minister Verdonk announced on November 17, 2006.<ref name="heraldtribune">Seeking re-election, incumbent Dutch government promises to ban burqa, International Herald Tribune, November 17, 2006</ref> The opposition Labour Party, called the law an "election ploy", and a Muslim leader described it as "a big law for a small problem."<ref name="heraldtribune"/>
Several right-wing parties, such as One NL and Party for Freedom, had campaigned extensively on the issue of immigration and integration. Wilders of the Party for Freedom wanted a halt of immigration from non-Western countries, abolish double citizenship, and stop the building of new mosques. Wilders said that the "Islamisation of the Netherlands" is a "tsunami" that needed to be stopped, "because it threatens our culture."<ref>(Dutch)"Wilders vreest 'tsunami' moslims", Volkskrant, 2006-10-07.</ref>
 The environment
The environment finally also became a secondary issue during the elections.
The first attention to environmental issues was attracted by Greenpeace who interfered in the CDA party congress on September 30, 2006. During a speech of parliamentary chairman Maxime Verhagen, activists of Greenpeace rolled down a large sign saying "CDA chooses for 240,000 years of nuclear waste," referring to the news a day earlier that the CDA junior minister of the environment Pieter van Geel is open to new possibilities for nuclear energy in the Netherlands<ref name="kerncentrale">(Dutch) Van Geel: 'Kerncentrale kan, onder voorwaarden', Regering.nl, September 29, 2006</ref>. Four activists were apprehended by the police afterwards.<ref>(Dutch) Greenpeace verstoort CDA-congres met spandoekTrouw, September 30, 2006</ref><ref>(Dutch) Greenpeace verstoort toespraak VerhagenTrouw, September 30, 2006</ref><ref name="kerncentrale"/>
Other important events increasing the attention on environmental issues were the Stern report of the United Kingdom government and the visit of Al Gore to Amsterdam promoting his movie An Inconvenient Truth.
The GreenLeft focused on this issue during its campaigns and sponsored ads which read: "Who votes strategically when the polar caps are melting?"<ref>(Dutch) reproduction of the ad on the [http:\\www.linkselente GreenLeft Campaign site]</ref> The Party for the Animals had campaigned on one issue closely related to environmental problems: the position of animals in Dutch society and especially in agriculture.
 Events leading up to the election
 Internal elections
In the month before the fall of the cabinet two parties held internal elections on who would lead their parties in the next elections, which were scheduled for 2007. In the internal election of the conservative liberal VVD the more liberal secretary of state for science and higher education Mark Rutte beat the more conservative minister without portfolio for immigration and integration Rita Verdonk. In the internal election of the progressive liberal D66 the more radical democratic minister without portfolio for government reform Alexander Pechtold beat the more social-liberal chair of the parliamentary party Lousewies van der Laan.
 Fall of the Cabinet
The next Dutch general election was originally scheduled for May 15 2007 as the parliament was to be dissolved on April 2 2007. However, it was announced that elections would be held on 22 November 2006, as Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, offered the resignation of the cabinet on June 30 2006 after one of the coalition partners, D66, withdrew their support from the cabinet the day before over Rita Verdonk's treatment of the Ayaan Hirsi Ali case.<ref>"Dutch coalition under threat in row over Hirsi Ali", MSN Moneyline, June 6, 2006.</ref><ref>"D66 withdraws support from coalition; confusion reigns", Expatica, June 6, 2006.</ref> A new cabinet continued for five months as a care taker cabinet until the elections. The opposition had pressed for speedy elections because they were on a winning streak. The late date for the elections probably worked to the advantage of the CDA because in those five months the economy improved and in the past the biggest coalition partner had always come out as the biggest party if the economy blooms. A major issue in the campaigns was whether this improving economy was because of or in spite of the right-wing government.
 Splintered Fortuynists
After the fall of the cabinet several new small right-wing parties announced that they would run. Most of these parties either came out of the remains of Pim Fortuyn's List Pim Fortuyn (LPF) or the liberal VVD. In the period before the elections the small right was characterized by a chaos of secessions, new formations and party switches. Former Rotterdam alderman Marco Pastors and member of parliament for the LPF Joost Eerdmans formed Eén NL. Party for the Netherlands led by former LPF minister Hilbrand Nawijn. Nawijn and Wilders currently form one man parties in parliament, while Eerdmans has formed the "Group Eerdmans-Van Schijndel" along with former VVD MP Anton van Schijndel. Two other LPF politicians have formed one man fractions but they have not formed their own party: Gerard van As, former leader of the LPF, and Gonny van Oudenallen, also former LPF. Margot Kraneveldt left the LPF, returned her seat to the party and joined the social-democratic PvdA. Meanwhile the LPF announced that it would also run the next elections, under the name "Fortuyn". The party is lead by Olaf Stuger, who served as member of parliament in the period 2002-2003 and returned to parliament in 2006, to replace Gerard van As.
 Exodus of prominent politicians
Several prominent politicians announced they would step down before the elections. Some commentators spoke of a large exodus.<ref>(Dutch) Ter Braak, Bert, De grote uittocht?, Parlement.com, August 25, 2006</ref> Within the liberal VVD former chair of the parliamentary party Jozias van Aartsen announced he would retire, as did his vice-chair Bibi de Vries, Frans Weisglas the current speaker of parliament, and ministers Hans Hoogervorst, Sybilla Dekker, state secretary Melanie Schultz van Haegen and Henk van Hoof. Within the CDA, ministers Cees Veerman and Karla Peijs announced they would not return, as did state secretary Clemence Ross. Both D66's current chairperson Lousewies van der Laan and her predecessor Boris Dittrich also announced they would not return.
 Turkish-Dutch candidates and the Armenian Genocide
On September 26, 2006, a candidate for the Labour Party, Erdinç Saçan, was removed by his party, because he would not hold to the party stance that the Armenian Genocide was caused by the Young Turks.<ref>(Dutch) PvdA trekt kandidatuur Sacan in, NOS, September 26, 2006</ref> That same evening, the CDA announced that two of their candidates, Ayhan Tonca and Osman Elmaci, have been removed as well, because of the same issue.<ref>(Dutch) Turkse CDA'ers weg om Armenië-rel NOS, September 26, 2006</ref> Both parties agreed that all their members should openly conform to the party's point of view on this sensitive human rights issue. The sensitivity over these issues was underlined when the speaker of the Turkish parliament, Bülent Arınç, in response threatened the Netherlands with diplomatic action over this incident.<ref>(Dutch) Genocide: Turkije woedend op PvdA, CDA Elsevier, September 29, 2006</ref> Namik Tan, spokesperson for the Turkish Department of Foreign Affairs said that "we are deeply worried about the one-sided approach of our ally Netherlands’ political parties on the so-called Armenian genocide as this puts a limit on the freedom of expression."<ref>Alleged Armenian genocide not a historical reality: Tan, NTVMSNBC, September 28, 2006</ref> Labour Party leader Wouter Bos later said that the term genocide is used too easy, and that he rather speak of the "Armenian question."<ref>(Dutch)"Bos: term genocide te makkelijk gebruikt", De Volkskrant]], 2006-11-06.</ref>
 News of possible mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in 2003
De Volkskrant newspaper published a story just a week before the election saying that Dutch soldiers "tortured" Iraqi prisoners in Iraq, back in 2003.<ref>"Dutch inquiry into Iraq 'abuses'", BBC News, 2006-11-17.</ref><ref>(Dutch)"Nederlanders martelden Irakezen", De Volkskrant, 2006-11-17.</ref> Defense minister Henk Kamp ordered an immediate (re-)investigation into the matter, but said that earlier information about this case did not result in the military police and Dutch public prosecutors to start a criminal investigation.<ref>"Defence minister denies abuse in Iraq", Expatica, 2006-11-17.</ref><ref>(Dutch)"OM: Geen reden tot onderzoek naar verhoren", Trouw, 2006-11-17.</ref> Left-wing parties, such as the Labour Party (PvdA), which demanded an immediate parliamentary investigation were later rebuked by military commander Dick Berlijn, who stated that the left-wing opposition tarnished the reputation of the Dutch Department of Defense by their incriminating language, while nothing happened in Iraq.<ref>(Dutch)"Berlijn haalt uit naar linkse oppositiepartijen", De Telegraaf, 2006-11-19.</ref> Mark Rutte, leader of the VVD, even went as far as to say that this Iraq story was a manipulation in order to influence the elections.<ref>(Dutch)"Rutte: informatie over Irak gemanipuleerd", Trouw, 2006-11-20.</ref> In an open letter to De Volkskrant on the day of the Dutch elections, defense minister Kamp said the news about possible mistreatment was deceptive, and that the editor of De Volkskrant should feel being misused by the sources for this story.<ref>(Dutch)"Kamp: Berichtgeving 'martelingen' deugde niet", Elsevier, 2006-11-22.</ref> The Department of Defense in the mean time is demanding a rectification of the story published by De Volkskrant.<ref>(Dutch)"Defensie eist rectificatie Volkskrant", Elsevier, 2006-11-22.</ref>
 Voting Tools
Several organisations launched a voting tool which helped voters to decide between the multitude of parties. The Institute for Public and Politics (IPP), a government agency, had the "Stemwijzer" (the "Voting-pointer"). The Stemwijzer consisted out of thirty propositions like "Citizens should elect the Prime Minister." and voters could show their support for these propositions by clicking either "agree", "don't agree" or "don't know". The Stemwijzer than showed to which extent the voters agreed with each party, showing them from most to least similarity in answers, advising the voter to vote for the party which agreed with them most.<ref>(Dutch)"StemWijzer home", Institute for Public and Politics, 2006-11-25. A translation can be found here</ref> The Stemwijzer had also been made for General, Europan, Provincial and Municipal elections since 1989.
The Kieskompas (the "Voting Compass") which was launched by the news paper Trouw in cooperation with the Free University of Amsterdam. It was launched as competitor for the Stemwijzer. This system was supposed to give considerably more information. Here voters could show their support for thirty six propositions on a five-point scale. Next they show whether they thought the current cabinet had performed well. Finally they could show whether they saw party leaders as competent and trustworthy. The voters were shown a two-axis system (similar to a Nolan Chart and their own position and the position of each party in this chart. It stated which party was closest to them and which party was least close. It also gave them the possibility to see which coalition was closest to them and which least close.<ref>(Dutch)"Kieskompas home", Trouw, 2006-11-25.</ref>
Other voting tools where the "Wie Kies Jij?" (the "Who do You Vote for") of the IPP which helped find the perfect candidate by his/her age, sex, dietary habits and poltical experience<ref>(Dutch)"Wie Kies Jij home", Institute for Public and Politics, 2006-11-25.</ref> and the Stomwijzer (the "Stupid Pointer") which mocked the StemWijzer, but still gave reasonable voting advice<ref>(Dutch)"StomWijzer home", Ionica Smeets and Matthijs Braamhaar, 2006-11-25.</ref>
 De Stemming 2006
Comedian Freek de Jonge performed an 'election show' ('verkiezingsconference') on public television on the night before the elections. It was called "De Stemming 2006" (an ambiguous name which means both "The Vote 2006" and "The Mood 2006") In his ironic comedy show, which was totally focused on the elections, he ridiculed the candidates, making such a show a uniquely Dutch phenomenon. When asked whether this show would influence the upcoming elections de Jonge stated he would make a fool out of everyone, not favoring a single person. This was the second time he did such a show. The first one was in 2003, when it was the thirty-third best watched tv-programme in the Netherlands that year.<ref>(Dutch)"Freek kraakt politici", NRC Handelsblad, 2006-11-21.</ref> This year, the show was watched by 2,016,000 viewers.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 Voting issues
 Voting machine controversy
A report by action group Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet (We don't trust voting computers) details serious security flaws in the Nedap voting machines used in the election. The report was made public; it was described by the national TV program EenVandaag.<ref>(Dutch) Beveiliging stemcomputer zo lek als een mandje, EenVandaag, October 4, 2006</ref><ref>Nedap/Groenendaal ES3B voting computer - a security analysis Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet, October 4, 2006</ref> It proved to be surprisingly easy to open the case of the voting machines. The inner casing around the electronics was only protected by a very simple lock. Thus replacements of software and even hardware were relatively easily possible (by a simple memory chip swap, meaning that the memory that holds the voting data is not encrypted). Voting machines manufactured by Nedap cover 90% of the voters in the Netherlands. Another machine is made by SDU and called "NewVote". It is based on a PC and uses a touchscreen instead of buttons. Both systems lack a paper trail, thus, when doubting the outcome a non-electronic recount is not possible. Only ten small districts still use paper and pencil.
Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet has threatened to bring minister Atzo Nicolaï to court since they are not convinced by his assurances that there will be no fraud in the upcoming election.<ref>(Dutch) Nicolaï mogelijk voor rechter gedaagd, EenVandaag, October 5, 2006</ref> In response to the allegations, Nicolaï introduced new security measures for the voting machines.<ref>(Dutch) Stemcomputers krijgen nieuwe software, Elsevier, October 12, 2006</ref> Currently Nedap is checking all its machines for tampering, is installing new chips and software that is less easily hacked, and seals the machines with an unique metal seal.<ref>(Dutch) Stemmachines in 35 gemeentes afgekeurd, Volkskrant, October 30, 2006</ref> Based on inspections, on October 30th the government decided that there was a problem with SDU voting machines, due to the fact that within a radius of 10 metres the machines could be wirelessly monitored, so that these machines could not guarantee anonymity of voting to a sufficient degree.<ref name="eenvandaag31oct">(Dutch) Stemcomputer of potlood?, EenVandaag, October 31, 2006</ref> These machines, which are in use in 35 municipalities, including Amsterdam, have to be improved or replaced with an alternative before the elections.<ref>(Dutch) Stemmachines in 35 gemeentes afgekeurd nu.nl, October 30, 2006</ref> Many municipalities, including Amsterdam, decided to switch to the traditional pen and red pencil method of voting instead of the SDU machines.<ref name="eenvandaag31oct"/> Machines made by Nedap are still in use.
Two experiments were conducted during these elections:
"Stemmen in een Willekeurig Stemlokaal" (SWS) ('voting in a random polling-booth') Because a lot of people could not vote because of problems caused by this experiment a group of citizens started procedures to nullify the results in all 311 area's where the experiment was conducted.
Another experiment is "Kiezen Op Afstand" (KOA) ('remote voting'), also called the experiment with internetstemmen (internet voting).<ref>(Dutch)Burger ziet internetstemmen zitten, Hoogheemraadschap Rijnland, August 25, 2004</ref>
In an experiment in Breukelen, a voting machine was placed in a tank station. However, non-Breukelen citizens had to convert their 'voting pass' ('stempas') to an 'elector's pass' ('kiezerspas').
 Public debates
More than during previous elections, there was a strong focus on the leaders, especially Bos of PvdA and Balkenende of CDA, regarding who of the two might become prime minister. This irritated not only other parties but also analysts who complained that elections should be about issues and parties, not about who becomes prime minister.
 Radio debate
The first public election debate between the leaders of the seven largest parties was held on October 29, 2006, on public radio. Mark Rutte, whose VVD is junior partner in the third Balkenende cabinet of CDA prime-minister Jan Peter Balkenende, was worried that the CDA will choose for a coalition with the PvdA after the elections, as this, at the time of the debate, was the only two-party coalition possible according to polls. Balkenende, however, kept his options open, and did not rule out a coalition with the PvdA. The PvdA's Wouter Bos stated that he will not become a deputy prime-minister in case Balkenende leads a CDA-PvdA coalition. He will then remain as chairman of the parliamentary party.<ref>(Dutch) "Rutte vreest voor coalitie PvdA-CDA", NOS, October 29, 2006.</ref>
 RTL 4 debate
This debate took place on November 3, 2006 and was televised by RTL4. Participants were Jan Peter Balkenende and Wouter Bos. Balkenende focused on his achievements the last four years, stating "We are much better off than four years ago. We were behind in Europe and now we’re ahead but our work is not yet done."<ref name="angusreed">Netherlands - Balkenende might get new term, Angus Reid Global Monitor</ref> Bos felt that under Balkenende the gap between rich and poor had grown, stating "What have you asked of the wealthiest? Everybody has been asked to dig into their pockets to contribute to the economy."<ref name="angusreed"/> In an opinion poll conducted by TNS-Nipo following the televised debate, 50 percent of respondents thought Wouter Bos won the debate, against 46 percent for Jan Peter Balkenende.<ref>(Dutch) Enquête: Bos winnaar van tv-debat, de Volkskrant, November 4, 2006</ref>
 NOS Jeugdjournaal debate
This debate was broadcast on November 11, 2006 and was televised by the Jeugdjournaal (YouthNews) of the NOS. The debate was aimed at children from 8 to 14 years of age. Participants were top-candidates from the four parties leading the polls: Jan Peter Balkenende (CDA), Wouter Bos (PvdA), Mark Rutte (VVD) and Jan Marijnissen (SP).<ref>(Dutch) "Verkiezingsdebat", NOS Jeugdjournaal, November 7, 2006.</ref> A poll among the young watchers after the debate showed that the Dutch children preferred Wouter Bos as the next prime minister (46%), before Marijnissen (26%), Balkenende (22%) and Mark Rutte (6%).<ref>(Dutch) "Wouter scoort het best", NOS Jeugdjournaal, November 7, 2006.</ref>
 EenVandaag debate
This debate took place on November 15, 2006 and was organised by EenVandaag. Participants were Jan-Peter Balkenende, Wouter Bos, Mark Rutte, Jan Marijnissen , Femke Halsema and André Rouvoet.<ref>(Dutch) Het grote lijsttrekkersdebat, EenVandaag, November 15, 2006</ref> According to an opinion poll following the debate, Jan Marijnissen won the debate.<ref>(Dutch) Bos en Balkenende botsen hard in lijsttrekkersdebat, de Volkskrant, November 15, 2006</ref>
 NOS debates
- 21 November (NOS): two consecutive debates; the first between the leaders of the smaller parties in the polls, the second between leaders of the projected six largests parties:<ref>(Dutch) "Kleine partijen botsen over integratie", NOS, November 21, 2006.</ref>
- Alexander Pechtold (D66), Bas van der Vlies (SGP), Olaf Stuger (List Pim Fortuyn), Marco Pastors (One NL), Geert Wilders (PVV) and Marianne Thieme (Partij voor de Dieren), at 19:05
- Jan Peter Balkenende (CDA), Wouter Bos (PvdA), Mark Rutte (VVD), Jan Marijnissen (SP), Femke Halsema (GreenLeft) and André Rouvoet (ChristenUnie) at 20:30.
 National summary
|Parties||List leader||Votes||Seats||Vote %||Seat %|
|Christian Democratic Appeal |
(Christen-Democratisch Appèl, CDA)
|Jan Peter Balkenende||2,608,573||41||26.5||27.3|
|Labour Party |
(Partij van de Arbeid, PvdA)
|Socialist Party |
(Socialistische Partij, SP)
|People's Party for Freedom and Democracy |
(Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie, VVD)
|Party for Freedom |
(Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV)
|Democrats 66 |
(Democraten 66, D66)
|Party for the Animals |
(Partij voor de Dieren, PvdD)
|Reformed Political Party |
(Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, SGP)
|Bas van der Vlies||153,266||2||1.6||1.3|
|Other / Blanco||–||–|
|Source: Template:Cite web|
As voting has been voluntary in the Netherlands since the elections of 1971, not all voters exercise their right to vote. Parliamentary elections tend to draw between 70% and 90% turnout; the 2006 election drew a turnout of 80.1%.
Of the estimated 600,000 Dutch citizens living abroad (about 5% of all eligible voters), who have to register to be allowed to cast their vote, only 30,000 (about 0.3% of the voters) registered. Due to this low rate of registration, votes of the Dutch living abroad will have a negligible effect on the outcome of the elections.
 Preference voting results
With the Dutch system of open list proportional representation, voters may indicate their preference for a particular candidate on a party's list. Usually the vast majority of people vote for the top candidate, however this is not always the case.
In this election the number two candidate on the VVD list, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk received a greater number of preference votes (620,555) than the party's lijsttrekker Mark Rutte (553,200). This was attributed to her greater national profile.<ref>(Dutch)"Verdonk verslaat Rutte; Koser Kaya verdringt Bakker", Volkskrant, 2006-11-27.</ref>
This resulted from the CDA and PvdA removing candidates of Turkish origin from their lists because of their position on the Armenian Genocide of 1915-17. As a result the influential Turks Forum advised voters of Turkish origin to vote for Koser Kaya, who is of Turkish origin, although her position on the genocide is ambiguous.<ref>(Dutch)"Fatma Koser Kaya: ik wil de kiezers danken", Volkskrant, 2006-11-27.</ref>
Any candidate reaching the quota (16,397 votes in this election) is elected, taking preference over other candidates on the list. This means Koser Kaya is elected, despite being at number six on the list. D66 will receive only three seats, according to its share of the national vote.
 Opinion polls
In the Netherlands there are three agencies that conduct frequent polls throughout the year (usually weekly). There is usually a small difference which may be due to different sampling and surveying methods applied. From November 1st the 'Politieke Barometer' started with two polls each week, and from November 13th they increased the frequency to daily polls.
The last polls prior to the election of the Politieke Barometer, the poll by NOVA and Interview-NSS, the TNS-NIPO polls by RTL4, and the poll by Maurice de Honds' peil.nl yield the following results:
The day before the elections, about one third of the electorate had not yet made up their minds, resulting in polls giving strongly varying results. For this reason campaigning continued on election day itself. An aspect of this was tactical voting, with SP telling PvdA voters that a strong SP would force PvdA to form a left-wing coalition, VVD saying something similar to CDA voters concerning a right-wing coalition, PvdA and CDA saying they need to be strong to prevent the other party from forming or dominating a coalition and ChristenUnie saying it has the best cards to participate in any coalition. Shortly before the elections, PvdA leader Bos showed himself more interested in the much talked about left-wing coalition of PvdA, SP and GroenLinks (possibly with ChristenUnie), which he had refused to talk about for months. Many suspected he changed his mind to stop the exodus of PvdA voters to SP. During the municipal elections earlier that year PvdA grew strong and after that they even grew to 60 seats in the polls, but after March a gradual decline had set in, almost halving the size of PvdA in the polls.
|Party||2003||Politieke Barometer||Peil.nl||TNS-NIPO||Election results|
|(%)||(seats)||Nov 21 2006|
|Nov 21 2006|
|Nov 20 2006|
|a Fortuyn is here compared with its immediate predecessor LPF|
b PVV is here presented as a new party, as it did not participate in the 2003 elections. It is however a continuation of Groep Wilders, an independent MP during part of the last term, after he split off from VVD
 Cabinet Formation
The Dutch system results in a large number of parties, none of which holds an absolute majority in the Tweede Kamer. Thus, this system requires the formation of a coalition government that consists of parties whose combined fractions can propose laws that can count on a majority in the Second Chamber. In practice this is most commonly achieved by building a coalition that has a majority; although a minority cabinet that arranges ad-hoc majorities for its proposals is possible. With the 2006 results a majority coalition requires a least three parties.
As of 25 November 2006 negotiations are still under way and may last a long time due to a polarisation without a clear dominance for either the left or the right. In the meantime the Balkenende III cabinet continues as a caretaker cabinet, which is not supposed to make new policy. A week after the elections, the new parliament members were sworn in, so until a new cabinet is formed, the caretaker cabinet has to take this into account because it can no longer assume its proposals will get a majority in parliament.
In the final debate between the leaders of the major parties (CDA, PvdA, SP, VVD, PVV, GL and CU) it was pointed out that the seated government lost 9 seats and the left wing parties (PdvA, SP, GL, PvdD) won 8 seats, which was interpreted as a signal from the voters that government policy should be more social. On the right, the PVV gained 9 seats, but other parties are silent about a possible coalition with the PVV. In the debate between party leaders — after the election was over — the question was raised if any of the leaders would want a coalition with the PVV. All kept quiet. When Wilders called this a "cordon sanitaire," VVD leader Rutte responed fiercely, saying that "there is no cordon sanitaire." Rutte believes the PVV is a "one-issue party," but also pointed out that he did not exclude the PVV as coalition partner.<ref>(Dutch)"Media", Trouw, 2006-11-24.</ref>
When asked about the possibility of a CDA-PvdA-CU coalition, PvdA leader Bos responded that during the campaign the differences between CDA and PvdA have turned out to be rather big and that the big winner SP also deserves a place at the negotiating table. SP leader Marijnissen responded to this that the SP had never excluded CDA as a coalition partner, but that the CDA of the previous cabinet is not one with which the SP can enter a coalition. That, combined with the program of the CDA and the list of CDA MPs would constitute many 'road bumps' and 'bears on the road', and said he did not really want to start a coalition with this CDA program and this CDA MP list. Prime minister Balkenende responded that the CDA he wanted does not exist and that he has to enter talks with the CDA as it is now.<ref>(Dutch)"SP: kabinet met CDA, PvdA onderzoeken", NOS Nieuws, 2006-11-23.</ref>
Marco Pastors' One NL was defeated by PVV even in his home town Rotterdam, where he had had a landslide victory at the 2002 municipal elections with his Leefbaar Rotterdam. Pastors, who himself had compared the present situation in the Netherlands with pre-war Germany, said that Wilders is too extreme for his taste, such as when speaking of a 'Tsunami of Islamisation'. He didn't want to follow him in this extremism. "I would have done myself injustice".
- The OSCE/ODIHR has deployed an election assessment mission to the Netherlands.
- The CDA party congress was ended by Roger Glover's song "Love is All".
- The PvdA party congress was ended by the Marco Borsato song "Rood" (Red).
- The VVD party congress was ended by Mick Jagger song "Let's Work".
- Filemon Wesselink, presenter of the (political) television program Lijst-0 for the youth channel BNN, was elected #30 on the D66 candidate list. Wesselink tried in the program to become a candidate for various political parties, secretly taping each party's interview process. Although a candidate for D66, Wesselink withdrew himself from the list.
- The municipality of Schiermonnikoog was able to tally its result first.<ref>(Dutch)"Schiermonnikoog als eerste klaar met tellen", Volkskrant, 2006-11-22.</ref>
- When PvdA leader Wouter Bos wanted to vote he couldn't because the PvdA had converted his 'stempas' to a 'kiezerspas', making it possible for him to vote anywhere, but it also meant he could no longer use his 'kiespas'. He didn't know about this, which resulted in an unpleasant surprise, after which he had to go and collect his new 'kiezerspas' in order to vote.
- In the hamlet Marle, with the smallest voting bureau in the Netherlands—housed in the living room of a farm and with an electorate of 51, 55 people voted, giving it a turnout of 108%. This was made possible by a phenomenon called a "mobile voting card" allowing people to vote at any voting booth within their municipality.<ref>(Dutch)"Opkomst kleinste stembureau boven 100 procent".</ref>
 See also
 External links
|Elections in the Netherlands|
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et:2006. aasta Hollandi parlamendivalimised es:Elección general Neerlandesa del 2006 fr:Élections législatives néerlandaises de 2006 nl:Tweede Kamerverkiezingen 2006 pl:Wybory parlamentarne w Holandii, 2006 sv:Nederländska parlamentsvalet 2006tr:Hollanda genel seçimleri, 2006