High turnout in Provincial Council elections linked to dissatisfaction, expert says

The unexpectedly high turnout in the Provincial Council elections is largely linked to various national issues that are currently unfolding and causing concern among the population, said Floris Vermeulen, a political scientist and associate professor at the University of Amsterdam. According to the voting behavior expert, people’s discontent with current national policies is the primary reason behind the high voter turnout. “Dissatisfaction has mobilized many people this time,” he said.

“There is a lot going on in the country. Consider the nitrogen crisis and gas extraction in Groningen. These are issues that affect many people, which make them angry or worried,” Vermeulen said on Wednesday about the high turnout figures. “You did not really see that in previous elections.”

According to Vermeulen, the right-wing BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB) party likely attracted people who would not have voted otherwise. The expert in voting behavior explained that this normally has little effect on voter turnout, as the feeling of not being heard is due to structural causes, and the emergence of a new party does not usually alter this feeling in the short term.

“But this time might be an exception.”

So far, turnout seems to be the highest in Friesland, currently standing at 65.5 percent. Drenthe and Overijssel follow with 65.2 and 64.4 percent respectively, according to preliminary figures. Like everywhere else, the BBB was the party that won the most votes in the three provinces. “Voters in these provinces feel closely involved with a number of major national issues. There is considerable dissatisfaction with national policy, especially in these provinces,” said Vermeulen.

At the national level, turnout is currently estimated at 57.5 percent, although initial exit polling suggested that figure was even higher. Four years ago, turnout was 56.2 percent.

Reporting by ANP and NL Times

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