On 10 June 2004, together with the UK, the Netherlands set the ball rolling for the 2004 European Parliament elections. Twenty-seven seats were to be divided in a single national constituency, four fewer than in 1999. The Christian-democratic CDA (Christen Democratisch Appèl) of Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende won 24.4 per cent of the vote, closely followed by the social-democratic opposition party PvdA (Partij van de Arbeid) with 23.6 per cent of the vote. As CDA lost two seats and PvdA gained one, both parties ended up at seven. The biggest winner was Europa Transparant, the party of whistleblower Paul van Buitenen, whose revelations on fraud and mismanagement within EU institutions resulted in the resignation of the Santer Commission in 1999. This party was a new contender but won 7.3 per cent of the vote and two EP seats. Another new participant in EP elections was the populist right-wing party LPF (Lijst Pim Fortuyn) which with only 2.5 per cent of the vote did not win a seat. However, this result does not refl ect the party’s infl uence on Dutch politics in the preceding two years. In 1999, Dutch turnout was at 29.9 per cent marginally higher than the 23 per cent turnout in the UK. As the 1999 turnout would not have been the best card an incoming EU presidency could leave, the Dutch government made every effort to organise a well-funded, large-scale information campaign in the months before the elections. This time, turnout reached 39.1 per cent.
KeywordsVoter Turnout Election Campaign Dutch Government Large Party European Integration Process
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