VVD MP Pieter Duisenberg caused quite a stir earlier in this year when he argued in the Lower House for a study investigating the supposed curtailing of political liberty at Dutch universities (read: too many lefties, not enough room for right-wing sympathies). His argument was successful, for his motion was carried by the House in early February.

But are universities really hotbeds of leftism? In order to find out, EM analysed the votes cast at nine universities and three universities of applied sciences in the Lower House elections of 15 March. These education institutions had their own polling stations, which were mainly used by students and academic staff.

Worst blows

And yes, it appears that the right-wing politicians had a point. If it were up to voters at universities and universities of applied sciences, D66 (31 percent) and GroenLinks (25 percent) would easily be able to form a coalition government, having arrived at 84 seats. Another left-wing party that did well at Dutch universities was the Party for the Animals, which got 5 percent, i.e., eight seats.

On the other hand, the three major conservative parties, VVD, PVV and CDA, together received a mere 24 percent of votes, for a combined total of 36 seats. The smaller conservative parties were not able to make inroads, either. Forum for Democracy obtained 2 seats, while SGP got none.

Telling difference

Duisenberg’s fear of left-wing monotheism may be alleviated by one fact: VVD performed very well at EUR. With 31 percent of the votes, the liberal party did far better here than at any other university (national average: 16 percent). Only D66 (33 percent) was more successful than VVD at EUR, thus proving that the Netherlands’ most business-minded university still lives up to its reputation. GroenLinks obtained a mere 15 percent of votes at EUR, considerably outscoring CDA (4 percent) and the Party for the Animals (over 3 percent).

Another striking finding is the subtle but significant difference between the results obtained at universities on the one hand and universities of applied sciences on the other. D66 and GroenLinks scored 5 percent points higher at universities than at universities of applied sciences, whereas at universities of applied sciences, VVD, SP, CDA, PVV and particularly Denk (0.5 versus 3.1 percent) received more votes. These results are in line with the national trend: the more highly educated the voter, the more progressive the vote.

For this article, we analysed the results published by polling stations at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Radboud University Nijmegen, the University of Groningen, Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, the University of Twente, Utrecht University, the University of Amsterdam, Wageningen University, Avans University of Applied Sciences (Den Bosch), Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. Not all polling stations exclusively attracted voters from their particular education institution. For instance, the polling station at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences attracted many Erasmus MC members of staff.