An expected 11.8 million people will be eligible to vote in the Dutch municipal council elections to be held on 7 March 2006. The number of people who actually cast their vote will depend on the turnout. In the council elections of 2002 the turnout was 58 percent.
Not all municipalities will hold elections
On 7 March elections for a new municipal council will be held in 419 of the 458 municipalities in the Netherlands. Fifteen municipalities have already elected a new councils recently because of border changes on 1 January 2005 and 2006. In 24 municipalities elections will be held in the autumn, as they will be involved in border changes taking effect on 1 January 2007.
Not all inhabitants eligible to vote
All inhabitants with the Dutch nationality and all non-Dutch EU citizens living in the Netherlands are eligible to vote in the coming council elections, as long as they are at least 18 years of age and are entered in the municipal population register. Non-Dutch nationals with an EU nationality are also required to have a valid residence permit and to have lived in the Netherlands for at least 5 years.
Just as the total population in the Netherlands, the age composition of the electorate is changing. The average age of people eligible to vote has increased since the municipal council elections in 2002. The share of the category aged 45-64 years, which includes the post-war baby boom generation, has grown by nearly 2 percent.
Electorate by age
More people with foreign background eligible to vote
A total 11.2 million people were eligible to vote in the municipal council elections of 2002. 1.9 million of these (17 percent) were of foreign descent. In this year’s council elections the number of people with a foreign background eligible to vote will have risen to 2.2 million: 1.1 million with a western foreign background, and 1 million people with a non-western background. The total percentage has risen to 18.
Germans are the largest foreign group
Germans are the largest group among inhabitants with a western foreign background: 320 thousand Germans will be eligible to vote in the council elections. Among people with a non-western foreign background, the Surinamese are the largest group, with 225 thousand potential voters, immediately followed by the Turks, with 220 thousand voters.
People with a foreign background eligible to vote, by ethnic origin, 2002
Some 715 thousand new voters will be able to take part in the forthcoming council elections: these are people who were not yet 18 at the last election. As this is the first time they are eligible to vote, they constitute the group of new voters. In 2002, there were 665 thousand new voters.
Leen van der Hoeven and Carel Harmsen