If it were down to voters at the universities and universities of applied sciences then, together, D66 (Democrats 66) and GroenLinks (Green Left) would hold more than half the seats in the Lower House. While, collectively, the three large conservative parties, VVD (the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy), PVV (the Freedom Party) and CDA (the Christian Democratic Alliance) would have won no more than 24 percent of the votes.
During the Lower House elections on 15 March, almost all the universities of applied sciences and universities had an on-site polling station. As the groups voting there consisted mainly of students and staff, they present a good picture of the political landscape in higher education.
We’ll start locally: at the poling station on the Woudestein campus, D66 was the winner with precisely one third of the votes, closely followed by VVD with 31% (after Avans University of Applied Sciences this was the highest score of all the educational locations, so the Netherlands’s most business-oriented university lived up to its image). GroenLinks lagged a long way behind in third place (15%), and only 4% of the voters opted for the fourth place (CDA). The last place in the top five went to the Partij voor de Dieren (the Party for the Animals), which won slightly more than 3% of the votes.
Do these results mean that Erasmus is the ‘odd man out’ in the Dutch higher education world? Definitely, as a quick tour of the voting results at nine universities and three universities of applied sciences makes apparent. If we add the results of all these institutions together, then D66 and GroenLinks are the absolute winners with 31% and 25% of the votes, respectively. If it was up to the voters in higher education, these two parties would have 84 seats, enough to form a solid coalition in the Lower House.
The parties in the conservative corner did considerably worse and, together, would only have won 38 seats. VVD trailed a fair distance behind at 17%, while CDA (5%), PVV (2%), Forum voor Democratie (Forum for Democracy) (2%) and SGP (the Reformed Political Party) (0.3%) barely played a role. Nor did the socialist parties PvdA (the Labour Party) (4%) and SP (the Socialist Party) (3%) fare any better. Of the remaining parties, the Partij van de Dieren (5%), Denk (Think) (1%) and the Piratenpartij (Pirates’ Party) (1%) stand out the most, while the ChristenUnie (Christian Union) only managed to win 2.5% of the votes.
There was also a conspicuous difference between the universities and the universities of applied sciences. The votes cast for D66 and GroenLinks at the academies exceeded those cast at the universities of applied sciences by five percentage points, while the reverse was true for the VVD, SP, CDA, PVV and, in particular, Denk (0.5% versus 3.1%), which all received fewer votes from academy voters. This result is in keeping with the national trend, the higher the education, the more progressive the vote.
The following institutions took part in the survey: Erasmus University Rotterdam, Radboud University, University of Groningen, TU Delft, TU Eindhoven, University of Twente, Utrecht University, University of Amsterdam, Wageningen University, Avans University of Applied Sciences (Den Bosch), Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. Not every polling station only attracted people from that educational institution. For example, several employees from Erasmus MC voted at the polling station sited at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, while Avans University of Applied Sciences is surrounded by colleges offering senior secondary vocational education and training.