Liberals, Christian democrats neck-on-neck to be biggest national party

CDA, VVD and ChristenUnie campaign banners in Ermelo, 22 March 2018
CDA, VVD and ChristenUnie campaign banners in Ermelo, 22 March 2018. Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

With 97 percent of votes counted, it is clear that local parties received the most votes in the municipal elections on Wednesday. The VVD and CDA are neck-on-neck to become the biggest national party, with the liberals leading by a hair, according to ANP's election service.

The results for 7,500 council seats are known so far, NU.nl reports. 55 percent of voters voted in the municipal election, a slightly higher turnout compared to 54 percent in the previous municipal elections four years ago. 

Around a third of the votes counted so far went to local  parties, an increase compared to the previous municipal elections, when a quarter of the people in the same municipalities voted for local parties. At this stage the VVD and CDA can each count on 13 percent of the votes. But as the Christian Democrats tend not to score well in the big cities, the VVD can cautiously claim victory.

"The outlook is really nice. Fantastic!" VVD leader Mark Rutte commented, according to NU.nl. "Truly a brilliant result seems to emerge tonight." If the VVD comes out on top in the municipal elections, it will be the first time in the party's 70 years of existence. Four years ago the VVD came out second biggest, behind the CDA. 

According to CDA leader Sybrand Buma, his party now maintains itself as one of the few national parties in a political world that is increasingly fragmenting. He calls it a big responsibility for the CDA. "The CDA will be prepared to take that responsibility wherever possible", Buma said in a first reaction.

Exit polls on Wednesday night showed that green party , with enough votes to nearly double their city council seats from 6 to 11. The D66 and PvdA were the big losers, each dropping five seats. 

The trend of GroenLinks gaining, and D66 and PvdA losing was also visible in Rotterdam and Utrecht. 

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