The Netherlands

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Mapping Political Power in The Netherlands

I spent the last few days in The Hague, the seat of Dutch government. One of the highlights was a visit to the country’s lower house in Parliament, called the Tweede Kamer Der Staten General

The 150-member body is a coalition of 10 political parties, with the conservative-liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, known as the VVD, barely holding the most seats. Labor is just behind. I wondered whether these party divides would be evident in geography, as they often are in the United States.

Trying to map the 2010 election, however, was a challenge, given the language barrier — both in understanding data fields and in navigating Dutch web sites for mapping data. Eventually, though, I found the shapefiles and election results data I needed.

(Thanks, Ron de Jong).  

First, here’s a look at overall population in Holland. Many of the residents are packed into large cities, especially Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Eindhoven. Higher concentrations of votes in these municipalities, of course, helps deliver more support in the overall election.

(BTW: Click on any of the maps to see high-resolution versions): 

The VVD party enjoyed support across the country, winning 31 sears, but it didn’t see its highest rates in Amsterdam and Rotterdam: 

The labor party, known as PvdA, finished second in the election, and now controls 30 seats in the house. It’s support is strongest in the northeast and in the largest vote-rich cities, Amsterdam and Rotterdam: 

The Party for Freedom, or PVV, is a right-wing party that fights against Islamic immigration. It controls 24 seats in the house, with a base in the far south. One local expert I talked to suggest that residents there may be less educated and/or more adversely affected by globalization, causing the strong feelings about immigration. Also, the party’s leader, Geert Wilders, was born there. 

Another center-right party, the Christian Democratic Appeal, controls 21 seats. It too enjoys support around the country, but it’s particularly strong in the east: 

The socialist party controls 15 seats. Its strength is concentrated largely in the southeast, perhaps because the leader, Emile Roemer, has a connection to the region. The municipality of Boxmeer, where Roemer began his political career in the 1990s, is the darkest place on this map (34% of the vote) along the German border: