Everything you need to know about the Dutch general election

As voters in the Netherlands go to the polls on 22 November, here’s everything you need to know about the election.


The longest-serving prime minister in the Netherlands steps down after 13 years in office after elections this month. Mark Rutte will leave his office in The Hague and will replace it with a classroom.

He made the announcement in July after his government collapsed, plunging the Netherlands into an unexpected election campaign.

The country goes to the polls on 22 November in a snap general election called two years early.

Here’s everything you need to know about Dutch politics, parties, personalities and the issues at stake when the European country goes to the polls:

How did we get here?

Nicknamed ‘Teflon Mark’ for his ability to keep government crises at bay, or ‘Mr Normal’ for his simple lifestyle, Rutte’s resignation marks the end of an era for the country.

After three terms in office, immigration was the turning point that brought down his fourth coalition government.

For months, the prime minister had been working on a package of measures to reduce the flow of new immigrants to the Netherlands.

But infighting within the coalition government over limiting family reunification and creating a two-tier asylum system led him to throw in the towel.

Two of the four parties in the ruling coalition – the Democrats 66 (D66) and the Christian Union (CU) – opposed the bill, while the other two, the VVD and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), supported it.

The idea was to reduce the number of family members allowed to join asylum seekers in the country and to make families wait two years before they could be reunited.

A few days after the coalition collapsed, Rutte announced: “I will not stand as leader of my party [the right-wing liberals, VVD] in the next elections”.

“Rutte’s ability to build consensus, his ‘managerial style’ and his pragmatic way of doing politics, notwithstanding his ability to survive political scandals and fend off the far right, are certainly among the main reasons explaining his longevity in office,” Philippe Mongrain, a postdoctoral researcher at the Media, Movement and Politics Research Group at the University of Antwerp, told Euronews.

“Rutte has been able to stay in power in one of the most fragmented party systems in Europe by showing a willingness to compromise and demonstrating ideological flexibility when needed. Perhaps, his successors will follow a similar path. Perhaps not,” he added.

The big question now is: who will shake up Dutch politics after Rutte?

How do Dutch elections work?

Unlike other European countries, elections in the Netherlands are usually held on Wednesdays. This is done to increase voter participation.

In the open list system used in the Netherlands, each party presents a list of candidates on the ballot paper and citizens can choose which candidate to vote for.

To win a seat in the Dutch House of Representatives, the only threshold a party has to meet is the number of valid votes cast divided by 150, the number of seats in the chamber. This absence of a threshold is rare in the EU.

Dutch residents on the islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten can only vote if they have lived in the Netherlands for at least 10 years or have worked in the Dutch civil service on one of these islands, according to the Dutch government’s voting page.


Since the Second World War, the country has taken an average of 94 days to form a new coalition, but the last cabinet was the longest in post-war history. It took 299 days of negotiations to reach agreement.

Opinion polls suggest that at least three political parties will be needed to form a coalition government after the next election.

Which are the main parties?

The vote for the 150 seats in the lower house of parliament will usher in a new generation of leaders after key members of Rutte’s fourth ruling coalition also announced they were leaving politics.

Among them was the country’s deputy prime minister and leader of the left-liberal D66 party, Sigrid Kaag. She took the decision because of the impact on her family of the repeated threats she received while in office.

Of the 26 political parties contesting the elections, only 17 are currently represented in Parliament.


“Dutch elections are among the most volatile in Western Europe,” says Mongrain.

According to the postdoctoral researcher, in contrast to the 2021 elections, the ruling VVD now has two close rivals: the new centre-right and anti-establishment Nieuw Sociaal Contract (NSC), founded in August by former independent and long-time Christian Democratic Appeal MP Pieter Omtzigt; and the joint list of the Labour Party and the Green Left, formed in July and led by Frans Timmermans, former vice-president of the European Commission.

The latest poll by I&O Research shows that these three parties are vying for power: Pieter Omtzigt’s NSC with 27% of the vote, the former prime minister’s party VVD with 26% and the coalition of the Green Left and the Labour Party with 25%.

“The former prime minister’s party, the VVD, is not in a particularly good position, but the premiership is certainly not out of reach, especially as Omtzigt seems to have ruled out taking the premiership if his party is successful,” says Mongrain.

“Omtzigt’s new party is attracting voters from several parties, including the VVD, CDA and D66, which could at least partly explain the somewhat disappointing performance of these parties in the voting intention polls,” he adds.


The Farmer-Citizen Movement (BoerBurgerBeweging, BBB) is another party that made a strong showing in the recent regional elections.

The Rutte government’s anti-climate change policies affected the country’s farmers, and they turned out in force to protest.

Who is Omtzigt and why is he shaking up Dutch politics?

Pieter Omtzigt is one of the most popular conservative politicians in the Netherlands, and although he only founded his political party, NSC, two months ago, many are betting on him to win the elections.

The technocrat wants to bring radical change to the country: “We want to realise our ideals, not seek power for power’s sake,” the 49-year-old politician told reporters.

His popularity lies in his charisma and his fight against the political establishment.


The former Christian Democratic Appeal MP, now an independent, became a martyr by leaving his party after writing a critical report on it.

Omtzigt played a key role in uncovering the child benefit scandal that led to the collapse of Rutte’s government in 2021.

The Dutch tax authorities had used an algorithm to create risk profiles to detect tax fraud. Based on these indicators, the authorities penalised families simply on suspicion of fraud.

Tens of thousands of families from the most disadvantaged backgrounds were left with debts they could not pay.

His track record of exposing what happened and investigating political scandals has positioned him as a rising star, but will he be able to seize his moment?


What is on the voters’ minds?

When asked what keeps the Dutch voter awake at night, there are three clear winners: purchasing power, migration and the Dutch healthcare system, according to recent research by AD Nieuws.

As Mongrain points out, monthly food inflation was approaching 20% at the beginning of the year and is currently around 10%, according to Statistics Netherlands, a significant burden for Dutch consumers.

“In order to maintain consumer purchasing power and fund the healthcare system, many voters see cutbacks on migration as a viable solution to free up public funds,” he adds.

Over 40% of voters surveyed by AD believe that too much money is spent on the system of resettling asylum seekers in the country, as well as other financial costs associated with migration.

Housing shortages, energy transition and climate change are also on voters’ minds ahead of the election later this month.