National Voters Survey 2012: satisfaction with democracy remains high

01/02/2013 15:00
  • Satisfaction with democracy marginally higher in the Netherlands
  • Declining support for foreign aid, nuclear power plants and home mortgage interest deduction
  • Older people in particular think people with a foreign background should adapt to Dutch culture

These are various conclusions presented in the National Voters Survey (NKO) conducted by Statistics Netherlands in 2012, in co-operation with the Dutch Foudation for Electoral Research (SKON), shortly after the Dutch Lower House elections. The first results are now available.

Many voters satisfied with democratic system in the Netherlands

Last year, 79 percent of the Dutch electorate stated they were rather to very satisfied with the way, in which democracy is functioning in the Netherlands. This is an improvement relative to 2010 and 2006, when three quarters reported to be satisfied.
The satisfaction with the way, in which democracy is functioning in the European Union, however, has declined. Scepticism about the democratic status of the EU has risen by 5 percentage points relative to 2010 and is now back at the 2006 level.

Crumbling support for foreign aid, nuclear power plants and home mortgage interest deduction

The share of voters thinking the government’s foreign aid contribution should be raised is dropping; last year 22 percent of voters thought the contribution should be raised versus 29 percent in 2010 and nearly 50 percent in 2006.
Public support for the construction of new nuclear power plants is also crumbling, as 20 percent are in favour and 60 percent are against. One quarter of voters were in favour of new nuclear power plants in 2006 and more than one third were in favour in 2010.
One in three voters advocate outright repeal of the home mortgage interest deduction, but two thirds are in favour of keeping things as they are. Since 2006, a growing number in the Dutch electorate think the deduction should be restricted.
Some 58 percent in the Dutch population think income differences should be reduced further. Although still a comfortable majority, the proportion was higher in 2010 (62 percent) and 2006 (68 percent).

Elderly in particular think people with foreign background should adapt to Dutch culture

There are obvious differences of opinion regarding political issues between the generations. Elderly more often than young people think that people with a foreign background living in the Netherlands should adapt to Dutch culture. Three quarters of over-75s endorse this point of view versus less than half of 18 to 25-year-olds.
There are also differences between men and women. More women than men would like to see a ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants and oppose repeal of the home mortgage interest deduction and raising retirement age. Proportionally, women more often than men are proponents of foreign aid.

Supporters political parties sometimes strongly divided on political issues

Foreign aid is a controversial issue: 3 percent of Party for Freedom (PVV) voters and 7 percent of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) voters think the government’s foreign aid contribution should be raised. In the Socialist Party (SP), the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) and Democrats 66 (D66) electorates, more than 30 percent are in favour of a higher contribution.
Few PVV voters support raising retirement age. Only 19 percent of them are in favour of rasing retirement age to 67, followed by SP voters with 30 percent. In the PvdA, less than half of voters are in favour, as against over 50 percent of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and VVD electorates. With 76 percent, raising retirement age is least controversial among D66 voters.