It’s time to take a look at some official elections polls. In the table below I’ve repeated the most recent polls of Peil.nl and the Politieke Barometer (try translating that one for yourself). The third Dutch pollster, TNS NIPO, doesn’t seem to have started publishing parliament election polls yet.
In the 2003 and 2006 elections it turned out that the Politieke Barometer was closest to the truth, with Peil.nl slightly behind, and TNS NIPO somewhat more behind. But maybe they’ve changed their methodologies in the past three years. (From reading their notes that doesn’t appear to have happened, but you never know. Besides, I’m not an expert on polling methodology.)
(See cijfers.nl for the final polls in the 2006 cycle.)
As you see they differ quite a bit when it comes to individual parties, but tend to agree on the overall block scores. And it’s these block scores that are most important right now. The right block wins a few seats without getting a majority; the left block loses a few. Still, this is months before the elections, and a lot could change.
That’s in fact a general rule: for now, ignore the individual parties and concentrate on the blocks. One of the many question is whether the left block as a whole will profit from the PvdA’s resignation from government and/or Wilders’s extremism.
Right now the answer is a definite No, but that might change in the next months. On the other hand, even if a few seats’ worth of voters do change blocks, will they put the left block over the magic 76 seat border? Right now it seems unlikely.
Still, the right block doesn’t get a majority either. In fact, a significant part of the loss of the left block seems to have gone to the christians and to animal rights party PvdD (which I don’t think belongs in any block).
(That’s not to suggest that left-wing voters suddenly become christian voters. It’s far more likely that all of the loss of the left block ends up with the right block, but some right block voters simultaneously switch to christian, notably CU. The link from left block to PvdD is a direct one, though.)
If you compare the table above to my forecast in the sidebar you’ll see that I don’t follow these polls at all. That’s because I think they’re wrong; not because of any methodological error but because many voters will genuinely change their minds in the next three months.
I’ve got serious doubts about Wilders’s PVV. I don’t think it has the ability to stay at its current level of about 25 seats. I feel that many voters who now seriously consider the PVV do so only because they’re in a protesting mood; and in this elections the protest vote definitely goes to the PVV before the SP. Still, I feel that many of these voters will reconsider once the campaigns are on their way. Besides, the immigration theme is just less important than it was in 2002, 2003, and 2006. That will hurt Wilders, too.
For roughly similar reasons I think that Verdonk’s ToN is toast; it’s a kind of a “Wilders, but different” party that has completely failed to convince and is now solidly at about 10% of Wilders’s vote. If Wilders goes down, Verdonk will, too.
Finally, something similar probably goes for animal rights party PvdD. Votes for that party are sort of protest votes, too, although less than for Wilders. A revived left block will certainly suck votes from the PvdD, and therefore I predict it’ll be fighting for its political life this cycle.
Still, these are only forecasts, and I could be totally wrong.
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This is the political blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer, in Amsterdam. It’s a hobby blog where he follows Dutch politics for the benefit of those twelve foreigners that are interested in such matters, as well as his Dutch readers.