Results from elections last week to provincial councils and the Netherlands’ Senate have been declared, with a new party, the Citizen Farmers Movement (BBB), raking in votes from traditional Christian Democrats and right-wing populists.
Between them, Christian Democrat Appeal (CDA) with 6.64%, and an alliance of evangelical parties including the Calvinist SGP and the ChristianUnie with 6.42%, took 13% of the vote.
Due to proportional elections in the Netherlands, small and new parties can secure voter representation.
Clear front-runners in the elections with over 19% of the vote, were the BBB who were not in existence four years ago. It was formed to oppose anti-pollution laws that have put in doubt the viability of numerous small farmers in one of the world’s biggest agricultural exporting countries.
"It is clear that convinced Christians either stayed with ChristenUnie and SGP or switched from ChristenUnie to SGP or to the Citizen Farmer Movement”, commented Johannes de Jong, director of Sallux, the Christian European political thinktank.
“Traditional Christian-democrat voters who usually voted CDA, meanwhile massively moved to the Citizen-Farmer Movement."
Commenting on the vote, Mirjam Bikker, party leader of ChristenUnie said:
“After achieving the highest ever number of votes in the Provincial Council elections four years ago, we have pulled out all the stops to match that. But what we already know is that hundreds of thousands of people once again cast their vote for the Christian Union, and for that trust I am grateful.”
And SGP Party chairman Dick van Meeuwen also welcomed the outcome:
"This result is a great compliment to all our people in the provinces. We retain all our State seats and even more than that. Praying and working has been blessed, which is very encouraging!"
Things were very different at the CDA. The Christian Democrat party saw its vote share halve compared to the previous elections. The party is left with five seats in the Upper House.
"This hurts," CDA leader Hugo de Jonge commented. Congratulating the BBB for their 'landslide', CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra called his party's loss an “extremely bitter pill”.
“The result was even worse than hoped for”, Hoekstra said.
Speaking to Premier, Johannes de Jong, argued the result was a judgment on the state of national politics in Holland:
“From what I see it is in general a rejection of the current governing coalition of which the ChristenUnie and CDA are part of. It needs to be added that the other two parties are the liberal VVD and the left-liberal D66."