Dutch cast pro-European vote: Labour Party wins, thanks to Timmermans effect

Dutch cast pro-European vote: Labour Party wins, thanks to Timmermans effect

Pim te Bokkel May 2019

Pro-European parties have won the European elections in the Netherlands, with the Labour Party (S&D) and Frans Timmermans emerging as the unexpected winner. As the party had suffered a significant loss in the regional elections earlier this year, Dutch media are describing it as the ‘Timmermans effect’. This suggests that the same result might not be possible for the Labour Party in national elections. Timmermans, the Dutch ‘Spitzenkandidat’ for the European Socialists, was able to mobilise pro-European voters with his character and pro-European narrative.

In the wake of the elections, a debate between right-wing parties – the pro-Europe VVD (ALDE) and conservative eurosceptic newcomer FvD, has dominated media coverage about the European elections. These parties also performed well in the Netherlands, along with the green party, GroenLinks (Greens). FvD’s electoral gain was, however, lower than expected, appearing to have taken votes from Geert Wilders’ nationalist party PVV (ENF). PVV has, for now, lost its seats in the European Parliament. The same is true for the eurosceptic Socialist Party (GUE/NGL): it aired a negative campaign video about Mr. Timmermans, which appears to have backfired. The pro-European Democrats Party D66 (ALDE), meanwhile, did not benefit from the overall pro-European vote.

Discussing the European election results on Monday, Dutch media focused on the high voter turnout in Europe, as well as in the Netherlands, where turnout has reached a 25-year high. Analysts also pointed out that the higher voter turnout translated into more division and fragmentation of the political landscape, given the losses for centrist parties in the European Parliament.

Since both VVD and D66 sit together in ALDE, the liberals won the overall popular vote in the Netherlands, followed by the S&D, both of which returned 6 seats in the European Parliament. After Brexit, the Netherlands would get three additional seats in Parliament. Early speculation suggests that the PVV, VVD and FvD would each get one additional seat.

About the author: Pim te Bokkel, Head of Digital, works with CFF Communications’s media intelligence team, to make sure that their international clients are up to speed with all relevant, global media coverage.

CFF Communications is a strategic, integrated communications agency. They closely work with Grayling colleagues in Brussels and Amsterdam, and with the Citigate Dewe Rogerson offices in the major financial hubs around the world.