In just under a month the people of the Netherlands will have elections for members of the House of Representatives. The Dutch elections are overshadowed by topics such as the European Union, immigration and the economy. And just like the French and German elections, the Dutch vote is being followed closely due to the rise of far-right politician Geert Wilders and his party, PVV (Party for Freedom). An interesting thing to note is that the current government will be the first one to complete its term of four years since 1998.
Every four years the Netherlands votes for 150 members of the House of Representatives, or as it is known in Dutch: De Tweede Kamer (literally: Second Chamber). However, if the government falls within those four years, new elections will be held, unlike in some other European countries such as the UK and Italy. Some of the reasons for new elections might be the loss of majority in the House of Representatives or a disagreement between the government parties. Furthermore, the Netherlands has a bicameral parliament that includes the senate or, in Dutch: De Eerste Kamer (literally: First Chamber). The Senate is filled by representatives from all the Dutch provinces, chosen by the parliament of that province, and thus not directly by the citizens. Moreover, the Netherlands is a constitutional parliamentary monarchy where the King is the head of the government but does not exercise any power. This power, in general, always rests with the Prime Minister, who is the person that was given the opportunity to form a government after a general election. How much power a given party will get in the House of Representatives obviously depends on the amount of votes they receive. However, it is important to know that the Netherlands do not use a system where the winning party receives extra seats.
The vote of 15 March had a record number of 81 registered parties and a post-WW2 joint record number of 28 parties actually participating in the elections. In comparison, the 2012 elections had 21 political parties participating. The difference between registered and participating parties is that registered parties failed to comply to a list of conditions, such as enough support in the Netherlands for the party to participate and a financial deposit of around 11.000 EUR.
Of all these new parties a couple of them have serious potential of making it into the House of Representatives. One of these is DENK (meaning: THINK). This party was formed by two members of the social-democrat party PVDA of Turkish descent.. The party positions itself as one that aims to battle racism and division within Dutch society. However, the party is currently facing a lot of criticism for allegedly creating more division within the nation than it cures, being accused for working with the controversial Turkish Erdogan government, and over-using the term racism. The presentation of their candidate list, which almost only consists of Dutch people with a foreign background, and the already high popularity under Turkish and Moroccan Dutch citizens does not help to battle this criticism.