Over 35,000 Dutch people living abroad have registered to vote in the Provincial Council elections next month. It is the first time that Dutch abroad will be able to vote in this election, which helps determine the composition of the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate.
Dutch people abroad had until January 31 to register to vote in the upcoming election. On Friday, the municipality of The Hague, responsible for the registration, had processed and approved 35,742 registrations. The final numbers will be announced on Tuesday.
People physically in the Netherlands will vote for their Provincial Councils, who in turn elect the Senate. Dutch voters abroad will vote for a special “non-resident electoral college,” which will vote for the Senate. The Netherlands has four such electoral colleges – the one for non-residents and then one each for the special municipalities of Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius, and Saba.
Dutch people living abroad will cast their vote by letter, which they can hand in at a Dutch embassy or send to the municipality of The Hague, which will count the votes from abroad. Residents of Saba, Bonaire, and Sint-Eustatius will go to the polls on March 15, like the people living in the Netherlands. The members of the four electoral colleges and the 12 Provincial Councils will elect the Senate on May 30.
Eelco Keij, chairman of the Foundation Dutch Outside The Netherlands and at the top of the D66 candidates’ list for the electoral college for non-residents, is pleased with the many registrations. He told NOS radio that 35,000 registrations might not sound like much if you consider that 1 million Dutch people don’t live in the Netherlands. But not all those people are eligible to vote, as that figure also includes children. He also pointed out that this is the first time Dutch people abroad can vote in these elections, so many may not even know about it yet.
According to the Foundation, over 35,000 registrations translate into at least 25 seats in the electoral college for non-residents. “A more than wonderful start of these new elections,” the foundation said on Facebook.