Increasing disparities in voting behavior between cities and countryside
There is a significant gap in voting behavior between urban and rural residents. The differences have only grown in previous elections and it is expected that this trend will not stop in the upcoming election. A worrying development that could lead to an ungovernable country, experts say.
Old or young, poor or rich, highly or poorly educated: everyone thinks differently about how and by whom the country should be governed. Age, education and income help determine one's political preference. But the population is not evenly distributed everywhere in the country, which causes large regional differences in voting behavior.
This is shown in research done by RTL Nieuws. The research editorial team analyzed election results from thousands of polling stations in 2012 and 2017, and combined them with characteristics of the neighborhoods they were located in.
City or countryside: 36 seats difference
If in 2017 only people from the most urban neighborhoods had been allowed to vote, then no fewer than 36 of the 150 seats would have had a different party than if the least populated neighborhoods were in charge.
In the 2012 elections, the difference was 31 seats. The gap between city and country has thus grown in recent elections.
The increase in differences between city and countryside can become particularly problematic, says Caspar van den Berg professor of public administration of the University of Groningen.
"A little difference is not bad at all, but you have to be careful that these differences do not increase too much. Regional inequality that is too great is not good for the mood in the country. Itmakes it more difficult to govern the Netherlands and maintain national unity. "
Feeling of deprivation
According to Van den Berg, the differences can largely be explained by the different composition of the population. For example, residents of cities are more often more highly educated and younger than residents in rural areas. "We know that these factors largely determine the development of your political preference."
But in addition, areas outside the cities do not always receive the attention they deserve and in some rural areas there is a feeling of deprivation, says the professor.
Expectation: further growing gap
In the coming elections it will become clear whether the differences have become smaller or larger. The omens are certainly not rosy. For example, the Social Planning Bureau has already concluded that society is in danger of splitting up as a result of the corona crisis, which exacerbates existing differences.
The persistent migration of young, highly educated people to the city and the shrinking and aging of the rural areas also lead to a further diverging population composition between urban and rural areas. Many people in the metropolitan areas think differently about themes such as climate, immigration and Black Lives Matter than people in the countryside.