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On 23 May 2019, European elections will be held in the Netherlands for the ninth time. An estimated 96.9 percent of the Dutch population aged 18 and over are eligible to vote in these elections. The electorate includes both native Dutch inhabitants and non-Dutch EU citizens.
In 1979, inhabitants of the then European Community were allowed to directly elect their representatives to the European Parliament for the first time. The elections are held every five years in a growing number of EU member states. There have been 28 EU member states since 2013.
Almost half a million eligible voters with non-Dutch nationality
Over 491 thousand in the electorate are non-Dutch nationals. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of them are Polish. Voters from Germany (14 percent) and the United Kingdom (9 percent) follow at a distance.
The largest electorates – after Poland – in countries that have recently joined the EU are found in Romania and Bulgaria.
Slightly over half the electorate are over-50s
At the start of this year, slightly over half (50.7 percent) of the electorate were aged 50 and up. Nearly one-quarter (24.4 percent) of the potential voters are 65 years or older. Just under 8 percent of the electorate are entitled to take part in the European elections for the first time. At the time of the previous elections, they had not yet reached the age of 18. Non-Dutch voters are mainly found in the age category 25 to 34 years.
Voting eligibility highest among over-65s
In the age category 65 and over, 99.3 percent are eligible to vote in the upcoming European elections. At 98.5 percent, the share of eligible voters is also higher among 50 to 64-year-olds compared to the average among all potential voters (96.9 percent).
The share is lowest in the age bracket 30 to 39 years: 93.4 percent. This age group has the highest proportion of inhabitants with a non-EU nationality. Likewise, voting eligibility is lower among the younger age group (18 to 29 years) compared to the entire electorate.
|Leeftijd||Eligible voters||Non-eligible voters|
|18 to 29 yrs||94.77||5.23|
|30 to 39 yrs||93.42||6.58|
|40 to 49 yrs||96.44||3.56|
|50 to 64 yrs||98.47||1.53|
|65 yrs and over||99.31||0.69|
Dutch voter turnout lagging behind EU average
According to the latest figures of the European Parliament and CBS, voters in the Netherlands have shown a declining interest in European elections over the years. Voter turnout dropped from 58.1 percent in 1979 to 30 percent in 1999 and rose again gradually to 37.3 percent in 2014. This was still below the EU average of 42.6 percent.
However, the gap between Dutch and EU voter turnout became much narrower in the period 1999-2014.
|Jaartal||Eligible voters in the European Union||Eligible voters in the Netherlands|
|Source: CBS, European Parliament|
|Voter turnout percentage|
|Source: CBS, European Parliament|
|1) In 2014, compulsory voting applied to Belgium, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Greece.|
Trust in the European Union mainly felt by young people
Last year, 45 percent of the Dutch population aged 15 years and over had trust in the European Union. Until 2017, this confidence level was fairly stable at between 35 and 40 percent. There has been a slight increase since then, mainly among young people under the age of 35.
The lowest level of trust is shown by 65 to 74-year-olds. Less than one-third say they have trust in the European Union. On the other hand, more than half of the over-65s indicate an interest in politics; this is a higher share than among young people.
|Leeftijdscategorie||15 to 24 yrs||25 to 34 yrs||35 to 44 yrs||45 to 54 yrs||55 to 64 yrs||65 to 74 yrs||75 yrs and over||Total|
The Netherlands ranks fourth in terms of trust in the European Parliament
According to the European Social Survey from 2016, 41 percent of the Dutch population indicate they put faith in the European Parliament. This puts the Netherlands in fourth place within the European Union. Only Lithuania (52 percent), Finland (49 percent) and Ireland (42 percent) have higher trust levels among the population aged 15 years and over.
Lithuania is the only EU country where a majority of its citizens trust the European Parliament. The lowest trust levels are seen in France, Poland, the United Kingdom and Austria at less than one-quarter of the population.
|Trust in EP|
|Source: CBS, ESS|
|1)Denmark was measured in 2014.|