Did you know that your vote counts more than you might have thought? In general, by voting on a political party, some might argue that the difference in registering a single vote does not make a huge difference. To some extent this statement is true. However, when a lot of people with the same political preference think the same, it might make a huge difference in the results. In general, a single vote in the Netherlands is already very powerfull compared to other countries. You can even execute more power by using the preferred voting strategy. Therefore, it is very important to vote next Wednesday, especially since the attendance of the youth is below average. This article will explain to you why your vote counts more than you might think, especially when you use the preferred voting option.
How does the Dutch system works?
The Dutch House of Representatives has 150 seats, which means that every party with at least 0,67% of the votes (1/150) receives a seat in the House of Representatives. If parties receive 0.98 seats based on the voting, they will not receive a seat. The only boundary for political parties is reaching at least one time the 0.67%. This percentage is one of the lowest in the whole world in order to become a representative of the nation. Therefore, individual votes count already significantly, especially for the smaller parties. Last elections the political parties VNL, Piratenpartij, and Artikel 1 were still relatively far away from the minimum boundary with approximately 32.000, 35.000, and 41.500 votes short. However, with the current number of 37 electable parties this threshold might be way more interesting to watch carefully this year.
How does preferred voting works?
This system, in which individual votes already count significantly, is not the only reason why your vote is worth more than you might think. In the Netherlands, you are allowed to vote on every individual politician listed on his or her specific party. For example, you can vote for the biggest party in the country (VVD) and vote for the fiftieth-listed politician. You still vote for the same party however, you do not vote on the leader of the party. Your preference is on someone else. This is called a preferrable vote. Therefore, the Netherlands has a system that allows voters to influence who is going to represent them in the House of representatives.
The system of preferred election works as follows. Every person that receives 25% of the threshold required for one seat (so 25% of 1/150 of the total amount of votes), receives a preferred seat (17.527 votes required in 2017). This is a very limited amount of votes required in order to bring in someone representing you. Preferred elected politicians are replacing the first listed person during the seat allocation. After allocation of all the preferred elected politicians, the first, second, third, etcetera listed politicians will receive a seat until all seats of a party are allocated. In total forty-three politicians received enough preferred votes in 2017. However, only four of them were not elected without this system. The other politicians were already listed high enough to receive a seat without this system. A practical explanation will make the story more clear.
The practical outcome of preferred voting.
The preferred voting is used to make statements or to vote on specific specialisms. Maybe you want to vote for the VVD however, you think they do not focus enough on climate change. Voting for a VVD politician that has a more progressive climate change vision is an option to vote for, instead of voting for the first listed politician. If this person is listed as fiftieth and VVD receives forty seats, he or she replaces the number fortieth when he or she receives enough preferential votes. Last elections, two of the politicians of Groenlinks received enough preferred votes and were not listed in the top. Since Groenlinks received fourteen seats, the preferred votes resulted in the number thirteen and fourteen on their list not receiving a spot in the house of representatives.
This suggests that there is an amazing opportunity to vote for people that are especially important for you to vote on. However, this system is wrongly understanded by many voters for a long time. One of the most popular strategies is voting for the first listed woman to make a statement for more women in the house of representatives (currently 36%). Although the statement will remain, the number of woman will likely not increase due to your vote. If you vote on the first listed women of the biggest party of the Netherlands (VVD), it is not really a preferred vote. You can of course vote on her because you think she is the highest qualified politician on the list. However, your vote will not result in a preferred situation since a party like VVD will receive 30-35 seats and therefore the woman in the top 10 of the party will likely receive a seat, regardless of preferred votes. It makes more sense to vote on the highest woman from place 30 or further. She is more likely to not become elected without preferred votes. To summarize, if you want a woman or climate specialist in the house of representatives it makes more sense to vote on the first listed after the expected amount of seats.
Tips for preferred voting.
Personally, I prefer using this system for a more diverse age representation (vote for a young adult) or voting for a politician that especially works on climate change policies in the house of representatives. Therefore, in the next article about the Dutch elections, a day before the elections, we will provide a list of politicians of each party with specific specialisms as tips for you to vote for.