Figures are derived from a survey on social cohesion and well-being (“Sociale Samenhang en Welzijn”) in Dutch society, held in the period 2012–2016 among over 38 thousand persons aged 15 years and over. Questions included whether they had voted in the 2012 general elections and whether they had joined any political actions over a period of five years. Their interest in politics was gauged through the question how much interest they had in politics, i.e. none, some, fairly much or very much interest.
Political interest greatest among highly educated
Of those with higher professional and university education, 78 percent say they are fairly or very much interested in politics; this share is 28 percent among the least educated (primary education). The share of interested people is higher among men (58 percent) than among women (44 percent). The politically aware are more active participants, turn up to vote more often during elections and are more inclined to join political actions.
Turnout rates in the 2012 parliamentary elections – the most recent elections on which CBS has data - do not show any difference between men and women, but do demonstrate that there is a difference between higher and lower educated people.
Higher educated show more political engagement
Even when looking at other forms of political participation aside from voting in the elections, the higher educated show more commitment; for example, people with a university diploma are more inclined to sign petitions, are more politically active on the Internet and initiate more contact with media or politicians in comparison with people who have had only basic (primary) education. Men are more likely to get involved in political actions than women, although this is a narrower gap than between the lowest and highest educated.
Signing of petitions is the most popular activity aimed at trying to influence politics. The second most common activity is going through media and on the Internet. Least popular are protest demonstrations, pressure groups and involving a certain political party for a cause.