Campaign Update (14 March)

Since last weekend, only one of the three polling organisations which the Peilingwijzer uses to construct its weighted average has released new polling, so I won’t build another table. It’s clear that the pollsters are all geared up to release their final poll over the next couple of days, as close to polling day as possible. However, I will mention that the most recent poll shifted the Peilingwijzer average in few ways: JA21 and Volt look more and more likely to enter the Tweede Kamer on at least one seat, and possibly up to three each; the VVD continues its slow slide, but remains around double the size of the PVV in second place. Other parties have shifted a seat in one direction or another, but this is easily within the margin of error. Amazingly, 50Plus are still tipped to retain a couple of their seats despite the ongoing infighting.

Debates between lead candidates kicked off in early February with the “Debate of the North” held to debate issues important to voters in Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe, and around a month later the “Debate of the South” was held – this time all the lead candidates were present, as VVD, CDA and D66 were criticised for sending the second candidate on their lists to the north. However, one of the more unusual debates is held during the Jeugdjournaal (Youth News), which airs for 20 minutes each evening, offering a version of the day’s events targeted at children. Lead candidates for the VVD, SP, CDA, D66, PVV and GroenLinks were present, paired up in the order which I’ve listed them. The format is a mixture of Q&A from children in the studio (and elsewhere), and a light-hearted quiz on current affairs (one question the candidates struggled with was the name of the panda recently born in a Dutch zoo). The event always gives an insight into how parties frame their policies to younger people. For example, when a question was asked about CO2 reduction, Klaver was quick to talk about how important it was, and how it was the responsibility of adults to make it happen, but Wilders emphasised that it would be too expensive, which meant less money in your wallet “to go on holiday or to McDonalds”. But if there’s one place where raising your voice or general aggression never does you any good, it’s the Youth News debate.

Lastly, Councils across the Netherlands have flagged that coronavirus restrictions mean they won’t be focussing on the speed at which they count votes. At previous elections, tiny councils Vlieland, Schiermonnikoog and Rozendaal engaged in friendly competition to see who could tally their votes first, but this will be put aside in order to sure the safety of their staff. Given that restrictions will also apply to all councils, I’d expect results to come in slower in general, although usually results don’t shift much beyond the first couple of hours of counting.