The year 2019 was a busy one for the Netherlands, with elections and strikes, multiple high profile murders and shootings, and a summer full of heat records, severe storms and poisonous caterpillars. Here follows a review of the top ten stories of this year.
Ruling party VVD and opposition party 50Plus want to change the constitution so that it is possible for municipalities to hold elections if their city council falls apart. Parliamentarians Jan Middendorp (VVD) and Henk Krol (50Plus) submitted an amendment proposal to this effect, AD reports.
Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations plans to make changes to the ways the Netherlands elects members of both the Eerste Kamer and Tweede Kamer. She wants to introduce a new electoral system in which preference votes on candidates are given more weight, NRC and Volkskrant report based on sources around the government.
Facebook is not keeping to promises it made to the Tweede Kamer last week about political transparency on the social media platform, according to privacy and civil rights movement Bits of Freedom who put the social media giant's promises to the test, Nieuwsuur reports.
With the European Parliament elections only two weeks away, political parties across Europe are campaigning for what they think the European Union should be. Here follows a summary of the largest Dutch parties' views on the EU, compiled by broadcaster NOS.
GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver believes that the government will opt for cooperation with the left-wing opposition in the new Senate. "The cabinet must choose: is it about the right or about the left? I assume it will opt for the Paris climate goals. That means that cooperation on the right is not an option", Klaver said, ANP reports.
FvD received the most votes in the Provincial States election, according to a provisional forecast from news wire ANP. Over 93 percent of the votes have been counted. Thierry Baudet's nationalist party will get 12 seats in the Senate, the same number as ruling party VVD. GroenLinks also had a major victory, ending with 9 seats in the Eerste Kamer.
Voter turnout was up substantially in the country's provincial election on Wednesday, compared with turnout in 2015. Some 57.9 percent of eligible voters showed up at polling places, up from 47.8 percent four years earlier, according to RTL Nieuws.
By 10:30 a.m. 7 percent of Dutch voters cast their vote in the Provincial States election, exactly the same turnout as this time in the 2015 election, according to a prognosis by research institute Ipsos. During the previous Provincial States election, the turnout eventually amounted to nearly 48 percent, NOS reports.
There are nearly 10 thousand polling stations spread throughout the country, most of which opened smoothly and on time at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Over 13 million Dutch can vote for their waterboards and the members of the Provincial States on Wednesday.
While most polling stations for the Provincial States elections opened smoothly and on time on Wednesday morning, there were a few problems. One polling station in Alkmaar is closed due to a fire on Wednesday morning. A number of polling stations in Amsterdam opened over an hour late. And residents of a Rotterdam neighborhood didn't get their voting passes.
The shooting in Utrecht on Monday that cost the lives of three people and left three other seriously injured is influencing the voting behavior of people in the Provincial States election today, according to a poll by Maurice de Hond. People voting for right-wing, anti-Islam parties FvD and PVV in particular are now more determined to cast their votes on Wednesday, De Hond found.
On Tuesday evening the 13 political party leaders responded to the shooting in Utrecht, in which three people were killed and three seriously injured, at the start of the last political debate before the Provincial States elections on Wednesday. PVV leader Geert Wilders and FvD leader Thierry Baudet decided to use their moment to blame the attack on Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) and CDA leader Sybrand Buma, linking the shooting to the Netherlands' immigration and integration policy, NOS reports.
The polling station in Castricum that opened at midnight received 17 voters during the early hours of Wednesday morning. The polling station at the train station in the Noord-Holland town was the first to open for the Provincial States election. Most other polling stations opened at 7:30 a.m.
The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, held a moment of silence on Tuesday afternoon to commemorate the three victims killed in a shooting on 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht on Monday. The President of the Tweede Kamer, Khadija Arib, opened Tuesday's weekly question and answer session speaking in honor of the victims in Utrecht and also the fifty people killed in a shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The latest poll by Maurice de Hond shows right-wing party FvD gaining massive support compared to the votes the party got in the 2017 parliamentary election. Ruling party VVD, on the other hand, is losing support. The Provincial States elections are on Wednesday, March 20th.
In the parliamentary election, the FVD got 2 parliamentary seats. If that election was held again today, the party would get 18 seats, according to the poll. The VVD would see its seats drop from 33 to 22. That puts only a two seat difference between the two parties.
A man arrested in Heerlen on Saturday, shortly before PVV leader Geert Wilders started handing out flyers there, was armed with an ax and two knives, the national coordinator for counterterrorism and security NCTV confirmed to NOS after Wilders tweeted about it.
The police arrested a man shortly before an election event by PVV leader Geert Wilders in Heerlen on Saturday. On Twitter Wilders said the authorities told him the man wanted to harm him.
Three CDA politicians reported the disappearance of around 30 election posters to the police. They believe the posters were deliberately stolen. On Twitter CDA Provincial States member Marcel Deryckere called it "extremely sad" that these signs were stolen. "Campaigning is a celebration and elections are the culmination of our democracy."
The affected CDA members are one candidate for the Noord-Brabant provincial government, and two candidates for water boards, according to Omroep Brabant. The posters were stolen from the public space, for example from lamp posts.
The first debate for the Provincial State elections of 20 March, which will ultimately also determine the composition of the Senate, happened on RTL on Thursday. The climate was one of the main points that the leaders of the VVD, CDA, D66, PVV, SP, PvdA and FvD debated, NU.nl reports.
The home of Friesland PVV candidate Jeffrey Graansma was vandalized. Texts accusing the populist party of fascism were spray-painted on the wall of his home in the Friesland village of Boelenslaan, according to a photo PVV leader Geert Wilders shared on Twitter. "Disgusting and unacceptable", the PVV leader said.
The 19-year-old Graansma is a candidate in Friesland for the provincial states elections on March 20th, according to newspaper AD.
The Dutch voting software OSV will also be used in the Provincial States election on March 20th. Over the past years, multiple vulnerabilities have been found in the software.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte kicked off the VVD's campaign for the Provincial States elections with an open letter published in multiple newspapers. In the letter, addressed to "all the ordinary normal people", Rutte calls on the Dutch to protect the Netherlands. Remarkably, the VVD is not mentioned once, AD reports.
The Dutch government is launching an online campaign against fake news in February, in the run up to the Provincial State and European Parliament elections next year. The campaign must make Dutch voters more aware of the possible presence of disinformation and help people recognize it, Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs said in a letter to parliament, NOS reports.
The campaign will be spread on social media and last for around four months, through the Provincial States election on March 20th and up to the European Parliament elections on May 23rd.