Fewer local parties participating in large cities' municipal elections
The number of local parties participating in municipal elections in the major cities seems to be on the decline. In the ten largest municipalities in the Netherlands, the share of local parties has fallen sharply since 2014, from 54 percent to only a third this year. This is apparent from an analysis by ANP/LocalFocus of the electoral lists for the municipal elections of 2010, 2014, 2018, and 2022. Re-division elections were not taken into account.
The five largest municipalities - Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and Eindhoven - are even less locally orientated. The percentage of local parties in this year's municipal elections, also including split-offs and combinations of national factions, has not been this low in those cities since 2010. According to Julien van Ostaijen, a researcher at Tilburg University, it is difficult to explain the decrease. "But it may be that because so many national parties participate in those municipalities, they are, as it were, taking the wind out of the local parties' sails. The offer is already so great that people may feel less of a need to set up a party themselves. They can already identify with the current offer."
The picture is different in smaller municipalities. There, the share of local parties participating in municipal elections has been more stable over the years. In the ten smallest municipalities, for example, the percentage has been between 50 and 60 percent since 2010. Nationally, the number of local parties increased slightly this year compared to previous elections. In 2018, there was an average of 38.2 percent local parties on the electoral lists, this time, it's 39.1 percent. In 2010 it was 33.3 percent, and 37.4 percent in 2014.
The strong increase in the percentage of local parties between 2010 and 2014 may be explained by Rutte II taking office in 2012, according to Gerrit Voerman, professor of Development and functioning of the Dutch and European party system at the University of Groningen. "In that year, the decentralization of, for example, youth care was announced in the coalition agreement, and municipalities were given more say," said Voerman. "It is possible that this was an incentive for people to establish a local party."
This year, 334 of the 345 Dutch municipalities will participate in the municipal elections on March 16. Eleven municipalities are not holding elections. In eight of them, council elections were held recently due to reclassifications. And the other three will hold elections after an upcoming merger.
Reporting by ANP