Local elections show VVD’s popularity

19th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Early local elections in six newly-formed Dutch municipalities brought gains for the conservative VVD.

The Netherlands – The biggest winner of Wednesday’s early local elections in six newly-formed Dutch municipalities is the conservative VVD.

The success of the group can be seen in southern Venlo which appears to have benefitted from the absence of far-right Freedom Party.

Venlo is the hometown of far-right politician Geert Wilders although his party was not in the local elections as it was not able to field viable candidates.

The VVD also did well in Zuidplas, a new municipality near Rotterdam. Right-wing firebrand Rita Verdonk’s Proud of the Netherlands party also picked up two seats on Zuidplas local council.

Conservative Christian parties Christian Union and SGP retained their strong position in the town, which is in the Dutch "Bible belt", a string of traditional Protestant villages and towns stretching from southwestern Zeeland to Zwolle in the northeast.

The Labour party, which is part of the national government, did relatively well in the left-wing stronghold of northern Groningen, where elections were held in Oldambt.

Likewise, the centre-right Christian Democrats held their own in the southern towns of Peel en Maas, Horst aan de Maas and Venray, which are in a traditionally Roman Catholic area.

Nationwide local elections will be held in March 2010. Wednesday's early elections were held after a number of smaller towns merged to form six new local authorities. Turnout was generally low, less than 50 percent.
Nrc.next pointed out the new municipalities are formed by the amalgamation of smaller town councils to create larger-scale municipalities.

According to the paper, 'scaling-up' has been the buzz word of the past few decades and is seen as increasing the efficacy of local government.

However, the paper contended that public opinion is turning against the idea that big is always better. People are worried that the human scale in local government is being lost and secretly regret the loss of the local town's mayor.

An MP from the Christian Democrats (the largest party in the ruling coalition) was quoted as saying: "The big push towards mergers in local government seems to have subsided".

However, the paper said the figures show that the mergers are not yet on the decrease.

Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica

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