Campaign Update (11 March)

One last hurrah for this parliamentary term, although it was more of a whimper, as the Tweede Kamer met today to hear an update on the state of play regarding the coronavirus. Currently there are around 100,000 infected persons in the Netherlands, with around 5,000 new cases per day. 80% of these new cases have the British variant of the virus, which would explain why it is still spreading at such a pace despite the lockdown/curfew. Aside from the usual suspects (mostly the PVV), there wasn’t much appetite to demand a loosening of restrictions. The cabinet itself argued that the current set of restrictions (including the curfew) needed to continue until at least the end the month. Most parties voted to support this, although some of them chose to emphasise their own particular talking points where possible (i.e. the schools have to stay open, there needs to be more support for certain groups of people, etc.).

Election day might still be six days away, but voting has already begun. Citizens over 70 are eligible for a postal vote, and can drop off their ballot at their nearest town hall. However, postal voting is not as easy as it seems (take it from me). You have to print out your ballot, cast your vote, and then seal it in the white envelope marked “Ballot”. Next, you have to sign a declaration and seal that, together with the sealed white envelope, in a larger orange envelope. Caretaker Minister for Internal Affairs Kajsa Ollongren (D66) reported that 2.5% of postal votes received didn’t follow this process, placing the ballot and declaration in the same envelope, which is a breach of the principle of a secret ballot. Voters who attempted to cast their ballot this way can return to their town hall and apply for a new one.

While the government still wants most people to vote on 17 March, a limited number of polling stations will be open on 15 and 16 March for people from at-risk groups in relation to the coronavirus.