Nearly one-quarter of non-Dutch voters are Polish

© Hollandse Hoogte
Around 13.5 million inhabitants of the Netherlands are eligible to vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections. Of this group, 3.6 percent do not hold the Dutch nationality but do have EU citizenship. Nearly one-quarter of them are Polish nationals. Slightly more than half of the entire electorate in the Netherlands are 50 years or older. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on population figures as at 1 January 2019, in response to media questions.

(English subtitles available)

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.

Top 10 eligible voters with non-Dutch nationality, 1 January 2019 (x 1,000)
NationaliteitNumber
Polish116.91
German70.13
British42.86
Italian35.18
Belgian31.05
Spanish28.78
Bulgarian24.88
Romanian22.16
French21.72
Portuguese19.20

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.

Eligible voters, age, 1 January 2019 (x 1,000)
LeeftijdDutchNon-Dutch
18204.224.97
19200.079.06
20198.9510.69
21192.5111.12
22190.9211.88
23190.8912.52
24195.5713.93
25194.3814.56
26195.615.11
27197.3615.58
28197.2115.67
29189.3615.93
30186.9115.81
31188.1615.16
32187.3515.04
33182.7514.8
34180.1414.36
35175.7314.16
36177.5213.46
37183.1312.73
38186.712.3
39181.2511.96
40182.5811.36
41180.7110.85
42183.710.39
43186.059.84
44195.229.56
45203.819.1
46222.358.8
47234.448.51
48245.388.06
49251.927.87
50241.297.66
51239.637.3
52241.016.84
53244.836.55
54249.456.37
55245.815.74
56241.345.18
57239.215.05
58231.964.62
59230.34.26
60223.753.83
61218.693.61
62214.113.29
63208.143
64204.392.75
65200.62.5
66199.752.34
67191.512.11
68190.692.09
69191.71.96
70195.441.84
71203.321.81
72207.111.65
73144.771.46
74148.661.48
75138.121.4
76124.431.2
77115.231.18
78114.051.15
79106.171.02
8099.390.92
8188.560.78
8282.910.67
8375.720.55
8469.250.48
8561.810.41
8656.770.33
8749.610.28
8843.640.23
8935.630.18
9030.070.16
9123.90.12
9219.540.1
9314.980.06
9411.650.05
958.640.04
966.090.03
974.130.02
982.80.01
991.640.01
1000.940
1010.560
1020.320
1030.150
1040.10
1050.050
1060.020
1070.010

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.

Eligible voters, age category, 1 January 2019 (%)
LeeftijdEligible votersNon-eligible voters
18 to 29 yrs94.775.23
30 to 39 yrs93.426.58
40 to 49 yrs96.443.56
50 to 64 yrs98.471.53
65 yrs and over99.310.69

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.

Turnout in European Parliament elections (%)
JaartalEligible voters in the European UnionEligible voters in the Netherlands
197962.0058.10
198459.0050.90
198958.4047.50
199456.7035.70
199949.5030.00
200445.5039.30
200943.0036.80
201442.6037.30
Source: CBS, European Parliament

Voter turnout percentage
 Voter turnout percentage
Belgium89.64
Luxembourg85.55
Malta74.80
Greece59.97
Italy57.22
Denmark56.32
Ireland52.44
Sweden51.07
Germany48.10
Lithuania47.35
Austria45.39
Cyprus43.97
Spain43.81
France42.43
Finland39.10
Netherlands37.32
Estonia36.52
Bulgaria35.84
United Kingdom35.60
Portugal33.67
Roemenie32.44
Latvia30.24
Hungary28.97
Croatia25.24
Slovenia24.55
Poland23.83
Czech Republic18.20
Slovakia13.05
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.

Trust of Dutch population in the European Union (%)
Leeftijdscategorie15 to 24 yrs25 to 34 yrs35 to 44 yrs45 to 54 yrs55 to 64 yrs65 to 74 yrs75 yrs and overTotal
201257.3043.6040.3032.8031.5030.7037.2039.20
201355.0039.9033.8029.3025.5024.7030.8034.30
201456.4041.2036.2032.2027.0028.4032.2036.40
201554.5043.3036.2031.0024.6026.8034.1035.80
201657.1040.8034.5031.2028.6026.3033.1036.00
201766.5050.5043.6038.1032.5030.7038.7043.10
201871.5055.8043.5038.6033.5031.8039.9045.20

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.

% of population
 Trust in EP
Lithuania52.4
Finland49.1
Ireland42.0
Netherlands40.8
Denmark40.3
Belgium38.8
Sweden36.8
Hungary33.9
Italy33.4
Estonia32.7
Germany32.1
Czech Republic31.6
Spain31.1
Portugal30.9
Slovenia26.2
Austria24.8
Poland23.9
United Kingdom23.1
France22.1
Source: CBS, ESS
1)Denmark was measured in 2014.

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