Labour, Socialists big winners in local elections
8 March 2006, AMSTERDAM — The Labour Party (PvdA) and the Socialist Party (SP) were the biggest winners in the Dutch local elections on Tuesday.
8 March 2006
AMSTERDAM — The Labour Party (PvdA) and the Socialist Party (SP) were the biggest winners in the Dutch local elections on Tuesday.
The PvdA won 1,988 seats, 670 more than its disastrous showing in the 2002 municipal elections. This puts Labour ahead of the Christian Democrats (CDA) of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende as the party with the most councillors.
The Socialist Party (SP) also had reason to celebrate on Tuesday night as it more than doubled its number of councillors to 333.
The coalition government parties - the CDA, the Liberals (VVD) and the Democrats D66 - suffered significant losses.
Balkenende's CDA lost almost 300 of the 2,050 seats won four years ago; the Liberals lost 128 of its 1,274 seats and the D66 had a particularly bad night, losing more than 80 of its 227 seats.
Although the VVD was judged to have done better than might have been expected, MP Jozias van Aartsen surprised everyone by resigning his position as VVD parliamentary party leader.
The Leefbaar (Liveable) parties suffered reverses compared with the major gains made in 2002.
Leefbaar Utrecht saw its number of councillors reduced from 14 to three, and Leefbaar Hilversum dropped from nine seats to five.
Victory for the PvdA was sweetest in Rotterdam where the party fought a neck-and-neck race with Leefbaar Rotterdam (LR), Pim Fortuyn's party that rose from nothing to become the largest group on the city council in 2002.
This time LR lost three of its seats to end on 14, while the PvdA became the biggest party in the city with 18 councillors.
Turnout for the local elections was 58.2 percent, a fraction higher than the history low of 57.9 percent in 2002.
PvdA leader Wouter Bos said during a debate after the results were announced that the victory made up for the serious defeats his party suffered four years ago.
SP leader Jan Marijnissen said the cabinet had to realise the implications of the results. "All coalition parties have lost; this is a cabinet without the people," he said.
CDA parliamentary leader Maxime Verhagen noted this was not a general election. Political commentators agreed the result said little about the political situation nationally as local parties are a major factor in municipal elections.
Pollster Maurice de Hond carried out a survey which asked the public how they would vote if there was a general election now. The PvdA and SP emerged as the biggest winners in the poll.
The coalition parties would lose a total of 16 seats, depriving the government of a majority, the poll suggested. Labour, SP and the green-left GroenLinks would take a total of 76 of the 150 seats in parliament, giving the left-wing opposition a slight majority.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news