Three-quarters of the respondents have already made up their minds and know which party or even which candidate they are going to vote for. A quarter is still wavering between two or more parties, largely between D66, GroenLinks (Green Left), Volt and the PvdA (the Labour Party).

Nevertheless, there is a clear winner. Around 1 in 8 Erasmians is planning to vote D66. Among students, that percentage is even slightly higher: 13.5 percent. This makes the party the largest in EM’s poll, just like it was four years ago.

Translated into seats, D66 would end up with nineteen seats in the House of Representatives1. In addition, the party has considerable potential among swing voters. If everyone who is unsure whether to vote for D66 or one of more of the other parties did end up voting for D66, the party would gain 36 seats.

The number of seats does not add up to 150. Three quarters of the respondents (blue) are sure of their vote. In addition, the floating voters (pink, just over a quarter of the respondents) are included in this graph. They could indicate to all parties where they have doubts.

Just as it was four years ago, the VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy)  is the second largest party among EUR students and staff members, although the party scores much better than that according to the national polls. The VVD can count on 11 percent of the respondents. It is even the largest party amongst Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) students. Expressed in terms of the number of seats, the party wound up with seventeen seats2, a lot less than the 33 seats the party currently has or the 38 seats that appeared in the most recent polls. Even with all the swing voters who cite the VVD as an option, the party gets a maximum of 28 seats amongst EUR students and staff members.

New parties are popular

More than one in ten students and staff members are considering voting for a new party. Volt (4.5 percent), JA21 (Right Answer 2021, 3 percent) and Bij1 (Together Party, 3 percent) are doing much better in our poll than in the national polls. If it were up to our respondents, these parties would get a seat in the House of Representatives. There are seven seats for Volt 3, five for JA21 and five for Bij14. Moreover, Volt could still potentially win nine seats amongst swing voters.

“European cooperation is needed on the world stage. If you do not do that, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage on all other issues,” explains one medical student on why she will vote for Volt. “There are more and more nationalist parties in Europe. Volt, on the other hand, favours cooperation and in my opinion that is the only way to counteract nationalism.”

Another party doing better in our poll than on a national level is the Forum voor Democratie. A total of 9 percent of respondents said they would vote for that party. This would make the party good for about thirteen seats 5. At the same time, the party is scarcely mentioned by swing voters. Forum does particularly well amongst support staff and men. Amongst women, the party gets less than 5 percent of the vote.

A lot of swing voters go for GroenLinks

With around 8 percent, GroenLinks is the fourth largest party among respondents who are already sure about their vote. It is notable that many respondents still have reservations about GroenLinks. A total of 16 percent of the swing voters in the poll indicate that Jesse Klaver’s party is an option for them (Jesse Klaver is the leader of GroenLinks). This makes it potentially the second largest party among EUR students and staff members. In terms of seats, the party can count on almost twelve seats in the House of Representatives 6 amongst respondents who are already sure about how they are going to vote. If all the undecided voters opted for GroenLinks, the party would gain another sixteen seats. What is also noticeable is that employees (both support staff and academics) are more likely to vote for GroenLinks than students. In fact, GroenLinks is the largest party amongst academic staff members.

The Partij van de Arbeid also has considerable potential to pull in swing voters. A mere 2.6 percent say they will definitely vote for that party, which would be just under four seats 7. But if you include undecided voters, the party could climb to twelve seats.

The CDA (seven seats), the PVV (three), the Christen Unie (Christian Union, three) and the SP (Socialist Party, three) are less popular among students and staff members than they are in the national polls. The SGP (Reformed Political Party) looks as if it would gain four seats amongst our respondents. DENK, Splinter, the Libertaire Partij (Libertarian Party) and the Piratenpartij (Pirate Party) may or may not gain a seat if it were up to our respondents. This also applies to NIDA if you include undecided voters.

Climate is the most important issue

When asked which issues play a role in their voting decision, respondents most often cited the climate (44 percent), followed by Europe (36 percent) and the economy (33 percent). That the climate is a hot topic is clear from the explanations respondents gave: “I would like the world to still exist in 20 years’ time. We have to do everything we can to achieve that,” said one undecided RSM student.

An econometrics student who is planning to vote for Volt says: “Above all, I believe that something must be done quickly about the problems concerning the climate, and that racism and inequality of opportunity must be tackled as well. However, I don’t think we should be too left-wing; as an economics student, I don’t want to be the ‘victim’ of a tax system in which working more doesn’t immediately pay off.”

House-hunting and basic student grant

Higher education (30 percent), equal opportunities (27 percent) and housing (26 percent) are also frequently cited. A subject like housing is something that directly affects the concerns of students, as the open answers show. For example, one economics student wrote: “It is almost impossible for first-time buyers to buy a house. I think it’s pretty unfair that it’s so difficult for our generation to buy their own home.” One Erasmus School of Law student who is torn between GroenLinks, D66 and Partij voor de Dieren (Party for the Animals): “Housing has become an important issue for me because I am actually looking for new place to live right now.”

Only one in five staff members cites higher education as an important issue when it comes to their choice of a party. This is one in three amongst students. Those students who cite higher education routinely state that the student loan system plays a role in their political choice. Like this CDA voter: “The CDA offers young people good prospects for their future. The party has never been in favour of abolishing the basic student grant, in contrast to social parties such as GroenLinks and the PvdA.”

Adressing racism

Racism and discrimination are also frequently cited issues, especially among supporters of Bij1, DENK (THINK) and NIDA (Appeal Party). “I just see discrimination happening too often,” writes one DENK voter. “There is even a distinction made between Western and non-Western migrants, which is completely ridiculous.” An Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB) student who plans to vote for Bij1 personally experiences a lot of racism, such as ‘from employees of institutions, including the university, the municipality and DUO’. “Opening up these kinds of issues to discussion is of vital importance in countries with a history like the Netherlands. That’s why I’m voting for Bij1, for Gloria Wekker.”

The major differences between women and men are marked. Women cite climate change as an important issue far more often (56 per cent, compared to 36 per cent for men), as well as higher education (39 vs. 24 per cent) and equal opportunities (36 vs. 20 per cent). It is the other way round when it involves the economy: 39 percent of men take this issue into consideration in their choice of party, compared to 24 percent of women. Economics is an important issue for half of the RSM and Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) students, while only 18 percent of the Erasmus MC and Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) students factor it in.

Corona is less important

Various issues play a more important role among supporters of a specific party. Europe is often highlighted by PVV, Forum and Volt voters, while the climate is more important for the Partij voor de Dieren, GroenLinks, D66 and the ChristenUnie.

Among FvD supporters, corona is by far the most important issue: three-quarters of them mention it. “At the moment, we are seeing an extreme restriction of fundamental freedoms for the population,” writes one FvD supporter.” Measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are disproportionate and do not take into account the knock-on effects on social, mental and general health.” Yet corona is an important issue for only one-quarter of all respondents.

Other student cities

In several student cities, higher education media outlets have carried out the same kind of poll or a similar one. This has yielded a few conspicuous differences. Results in Delft are very similar to those in Rotterdam; D66 is also the most popular party among Delft students and GroenLinks wins the vote among staff members. The latter party is also the largest in Utrecht and Groningen. The most striking result is found in Enschede, where newcomer Volt is the largest. In those cities, support for the VVD and Forum is much less than in Rotterdam.

Climate seems the most important issue for university students and staff. It is is the most frequently cited issue in all these polls. Higher education, Europe and housing were also mentioned a lot in most polls.

About the poll:

A total of 1,134 students and staff members took part in the Erasmus Magazine poll between 25 February and 8 March. They were asked whether they were already sure about their vote and which party they were going to vote for, and which parties undecided voters were choosing between as well as which issues play a role when making a choice at the polling booth. Respondents were approached through various digital channels.

Around 60 percent of the respondents are male. Consequently, men are overrepresented in this poll. This means that a number of right-wing parties are represented more often and a few left-wing parties less often than if the random survey was representative. Political science research shows that men in Western countries are on average slightly more right-wing than women. We also see this outcome in our research. VVD, Forum, CDA, JA21 and PVV are cited significantly more often by men than by women. In contrast, D66, GroenLinks, the Partij voor de Dieren and Bij1 are cited significantly more often by women than by men.

  1. 17.3 to 20.1 with a confidence interval of 95 percent ↩︎
  2. 15.1 to 17.9 with a confidence interval of 95 percent ↩︎
  3. 5.9 to 7.7 with a confidence interval of 95 percent ↩︎
  4. both 3.8 to 5.2 with a confidence interval of 95 percent ↩︎
  5. 12.3 to 14.9 seats with a confidence interval of 95 percent ↩︎
  6. 10.5 to 12.7 with a confidence interval of 95 percent ↩︎
  7. 3.1 to 4.5 with a 95 percent confidence interval ↩︎