Exit poll shows Dutch coalition will lose 8 seats in Senate as BBB becomes biggest party

NL Times also published a separate article about the first exit polling data at the provincial level.

The first national exit poll of the 2023 Dutch Provincial Council elections showed that the four parties that make up the ruling coalition will lose eight of their 32 seats in the Dutch Senate. The largest party in the upper house of Parliament is projected to be either the Boer Burger Beweging (BBB), a new right wing party formed to represent the farming and agriculture sector, or a merged left-wing party combining GroenLinks and PvdA.

An estimated 13.3 million people in the Netherlands were eligible to vote on Wednesday. The polling places across the country were closed at 9 p.m. They cast ballots for the 570 people who combined will serve on the councils governing the 12 provinces in the Netherlands. That group will then vote on May 30 to determine the composition of the 75-seat Senate.

The four parties that make up the current coalition, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD, along with D66, CDA and ChristenUnie, already had a minority level of support in the Senate that required them to work with at least one other party to get legislation past. That gap widened even further on Wednesday.

The coalition earned just 30.6 percent of the vote on Wednesday, according to the national exit poll from Ipsos and NOS. That was down from 40.3 percent in 2019. As a result, the coalition should see their total number of Senate seats drop from 32 down to 24. The biggest reduction was from a fall in support for the CDA, which was projected to lose four of their nine seats. The VVD could fall from 12 to 10 seats, D66 likely lost one of its seven seats, and ChristenUnie lost one of their four. As a result, the coalition parties will likely be forced to make concessions either to right-wing or left-wing factions if they want to get policy passed in the Senate.

The BBB was projected to win 15 seats as a result of Wednesday’s election, making it potentially the largest party in the Senate, followed by the VVD with 10, GroenLinks with eight, and PvdA with seven. However, both GroenLinks and PvdA agreed to join forces as one faction in the Senate, which could effectively bring them together to make the two combined the largest or second-largest party once all the votes are counted.

The four parties will have to either earn support from either BBB, or both GroenLinks and Labour (PvdA). The two left-wing parties pledged to work more closely together in the run-up to the 2023 election.

However, several major issues still need to be dealt with at the national level. This includes policies related to the housing shortage, the reception of asylum seekers, and nitrogen emissions. Either of the three could prove to be insurmountable, and could trigger the collapse of Rutte’s fourth Cabinet, as Rutte himself conceded.

Regarding the nitrogen issue, the left-wing parties do not believe the coalition has gone far enough in its approach to the environment and climate change, while the BBB, backed by farmers and agriculture businesses, have showed intense resistance to any change that negatively impacts their livelihoods on behalf of environmental policy.

The biggest loser of the night appeared to be Forum voor Democratie. The far-right party was the big winner in the 2019 election, but support plunged from 12 Senate seats won in 2019 down to just two seats this year.

Projected Impact of 2023 Election on Dutch Senate Seats

Party 2019 Seat Total 2023 Seat Total Change from 2019
BBB 0 15 +15
VVD 12 10 -2
GroenLinks 8 8 +/- 0
PvdA 6 7 +1
D66 7 6 -1
CDA 9 5 -4
PVV 5 4 -1
PvdD 3 4 +1
SP 4 3 -1
JA21 0 3 +3
ChristenUnie 4 3 -1
FvD 12 2 -10
Volt 0 2 +2
50Plus 2 1 -1
SGP 2 1 -1
OSF/OPNL 1 1 +/- 0


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