Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

High turnover rates in Dutch parliament

Tuesday, November 3 2015, 11:56

DEN HAAG (PDC) - A crucial element of democracy is to have changes in parliamentary membership after elections or on mid-terms. Athanassios Gouglas and Bart Maddens (KU Leuven, Public Governance Institute) examined membership changes in the Dutch 'Tweede Kamer', using data from Parlement & Politiek

Gouglas and Maddens concluded that, on average, 37,6% of the MPs elected into the Tweede Kamer is new. Moreover, they divided the Dutch post-war elections in three periods during which electoral turnover increases. The period 1948-1963 is characterised by pillarisation and consequently there was a low percentage change in 'Tweede Kamer'-membership. Between 1967-1989, the influence of social actors decreased, people voted less pillarised and more new politicians became a member of the 'Tweede Kamer'. Between 1994-2012, Dutch politics were defined by a legitimacy challenge that caused high electoral volatility. Electoral turnover could hitherto increase again. 

During mid-terms, the Dutch parliament is also characterised by high turnover rates. According to both authors, this is due to the ease for Dutch MPs to temporarily leave the 'Tweede Kamer' and the incompatibility of being a member of the executive and legislative at the same time.