Turnout in local elections low and fragmented
7 March 2006, AMSTERDAM — Voters showed little enthusiasm for local democracy on Tuesday as political watchers predict the low turnout of 58 percent in the 2002 municipal elections will not be surpassed.
7 March 2006
AMSTERDAM — Voters showed little enthusiasm for local democracy on Tuesday as political watchers predict the low turnout of 58 percent in the 2002 municipal elections will not be surpassed.
By Tuesday afternoon it was estimated 30 percent of the country's 11.8 million eligible voters had exercised their ballot.Turnout in Amersfoort, Apeldoorn, Assen and Kerkrade was above 35 percent.
But Rotterdam recorded a turnout of 29.4 percent, which is higher than in 2002 when Pim Fortuyn led Leefbaar Rotterdam to a stunning victory. Some 23 percent of registered voters had cast their ballots in The Hague by the afternoon.
Amsterdam television station AT5 said 32 percent of the electorate in the capital had voted by 6pm. Four years ago 33 percent had voted by this time.
Commentators said the turnout in the Randstad urban area was generally low but higher in rural areas.
Preliminary results are expected shortly after polls close at 9pm. Opinion polls conducted during the campaign indicated significant losses for local parties that did so well four years ago and a good showing by the opposition Labour Party (PvdA).
Voters are no longer restricted to casting their ballots in their local polling station. People who transferred their polling card into a 'stempas' (voting card) can vote at any polling station within the municipality in which they live.
Opinion polls have suggested there will be no significant increase in turnout figures compared with 2002 when only 58 percent of the electorate voted for town and city councillors.
The local elections are taking place in 419 of the 458 municipalities in the country. Voting has already taken place in 15 districts due to the redrawing of municipal borders in 2005 and early 2006. The remaining 24 municipalities are to hold elections in the autumn in preparation for the re-division of the borders in those districts on 1 January 2007.
In principle all Dutch citizens aged 18 and older are eligible to vote. Citizens of other EU countries living in the Netherlands and other foreigners who have been living here legally for five years or more are also entitled to vote in the local elections.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news