Amsterdam, Utrecht election poll shows big Green gains; Change likely in Rotterdam
An exit poll for Wednesday's city-wide elections suggested that green party GroenLinks was the big winner in Amsterdam, with enough votes to nearly double their city council seats from 6 to 11. Centrist party D66 and left-wing Labour party (PvdA) were the big losers of the night in the capital, each dropping five seats, according to the Ipsos/NOS exit poll.
Finalized official results are not expected until next week, and the exit poll carries a one-seat margin of error. Other projected winners in Amsterdam include Denk, which took three seats in its first election, the Party for Animals (PvdD) grew from one seat to three, controversial nationalist party Forum voor Democratie took two seats in their debut, and multicultural-focused party Bij1 snatched a seat in its first local election.
Amsterdam election coalition likely left-wing
For Labour, it is the continuation of a downward spiral in Amsterdam politics. The party held 20 seats after the 2006 election, losing five in 2010, five more in 2014, and apparently five more in 2018.
D66 is projected to fall to nine seats, holding court as the second-largest party in Amsterdam government. The socialist SP fell by half to three seats. The right-wing VVD is expected to hold at six seats, and both CDA and the elderly-focused Partij van de Ouderen held one seat each.
There are 45 total seats on the Amsterdam City Council. Several combinations of parties would allow for a 23-seat majority. Many left-wing coalitions are possible if a deal can be struck between GroenLinks, Labour, SP, PvdD, Denk, Bij1, and Partij van de Ouderen, which all combine for 27 seats. A three-party coalition is possible if GroenLinks forms a pact with D66 and Labour.
Roughly 55.3 percent of Amsterdammers voted on Wednesday, a sharp rise in turnout compared to 2014. In that election some 50.3 percent voted.
In Amsterdam the turnout was a lot higher than 4 years ago. Today 55.3 percent voted. In 2014 that was still 50.3 percent.
Rotterdam election results
Meanwhile in Rotterdam, some 46.7 percent of the city voted, with local favorites Leefbaar Rotterdam faltering from 13 seats to 11. The right-wing party saw two seats go to nationalist anti-Islam party PVV. Likewise, D66 dropped two seats to four, and the VVD gained two to five seats.
Labour and the SP both shed three seats, respectively holding five and two council spots. GroenLinks snapped up two to double their total, and Denk picked up four seats with turning out a stunning 8.8 percent of the vote in its first Rotterdam election.
While it is murky what parties could form a coalition in Rotterdam, it appears that the current coalition lost its mandate. Leefbaar Rotterdam, D66, and CDA have a coalition for 21 seats of Rotterdam's 45 council spots. The coalition won 23 seats in the 2014 election, and if Wednesday's exit poll is correct, that total will fall further to 17 seats.
Utrecht election results
GroenLinks also saw gains in Utrecht, jumping from nine seats up to 12. D66 Utrecht had a disappointing night, dropping four seats to nine. Labour also likely lost three seats to two, SP fell from four to two, CDA fell from three to two, and local party Stadsbelang Utrecht lost one of their two seats.
This opened the door for Denk to snatch three seats. The PvdD doubled up to two seats, and the PVV also took two seats. A local seniors' party and the Student and Starters party both grabbed one seat.
Currently, a left-center-right coalition of D66, GroenLinks, VVD and SP holds 31 of the 45 seats there. The same coalition would still hold a majority with 28 seats, depending on the exit poll's accuracy.
Most polling stations opened at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, though there were a few that opened earlier - some even at midnight. Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs was the first politician spotted at a polling station - she cast her vote at Amsterdam Centraal at 6:30 a.m. A few polling stations had to open late or relocate due to problems ranging from lost keys to a virus outbreak.
Around 2:00 p.m. the Amsterdam municipality announced that 19 percent of Amsterdam voters cast their votes during the morning, Het Parool reports. That is considerably higher than the morning turnout of the previous municipal elections four years ago, when 11.2 percent of Amsterdammers voted in the morning.
Of the four large cities in the Netherlands, voters in Utrecht were most enthusiastic about getting to the polling stations early. By 2:00 p.m. the municipality reported a turnout of 21.9 percent. At that same time 18.5 percent of Rotterdam voters and 19.3 percent of The Hague voters already cast their vote.
As the turnout for municipal elections is traditionally lower than that for parliamentary elections, municipalities across the Netherlands put in extra effort to get voters to the polling stations. In the municipality of Gooische Meren, mayor Han ter Heegte even brought voters to the polling stations by giving them a lift on his bicycle, NOS reports. Hilversum aimed its efforts at young people voting for the first time. All 18-year-olds in the municipality were issued a 'voting diploma', which they can exchange for a cellphone charger. "Your vote is worth something", the municipality said.