General election 2003: back to normal

The social democratic PvdA booked a record gain in seats in the Dutch general election of 22 January 2003. This leap, from 15 to 27 percent of the votes cast, follows the record loss in May 2002, when the party fell from 29 to 15 percent of the vote. In spite of the record gain, the percentage of vote hardly differs from the average of previous elections, just as the shares for the other two main parties, the Christian democrats (CDA) and the liberals (VVD).

Together, the three largest parties won three-quarters of the total vote. This is the same as the average for the eight general elections held in the period 1977-2002. Only in 2002 was their share much smaller (less than sixty percent), as newcomer List Pim Fortuyn (LPF) claimed a large proportion.

PvdA vote in general elections


The PvdA won an average 28 percent of votes in the general elections held in the period 1977-2002. The gain from 15 to 25 percent is thus a question of back to a normal percentage for this party.

The percentage of votes for this party has been stable over a longer period, too: since the general election of 1918 the support for the PvdA and its precursors has been between 25 and 35 percent. The general election last year has been the only blip.

CDA vote in general elections


The CDA first ran in the general election of 1977. The percentage of votes for the three parties making up the CDA fell from fifty to thirty percent in the sixties and seventies. Since 1977 the share of CDA in the total vote has been 29 percent on average. It peaked in the general election of 1989, under the leadership of the then prime minister Lubbers (35 percent). CDA support fell to its lowest point in 1998 after the first ‘purple’ cabinet (18 percent). This year they, too, are back to normal, with nearly 29 percent of the vote.

VVD vote in general elections


Up to the seventies the VVD claimed around ten percent of votes. Since 1977, the average for the VVD is 19 percent. Their highest percentage was in 1998 when under leader Bolkestein they attracted 25 percent of the vote. Following the heavy loss in 2002, they recovered to 18 percent this year, nearly back to average.

Joop de Beer