Stats & Politics: House of Representatives (2012-2017)

With elections coming up for the Dutch House of Representatives, it is time to reflect once more on the past four years. What can the past four years possibly tell us about the next four? The official website for the House of Representatives lists proposed bills, meta data and recorded votes by party. This data was scraped using Python 3.4 and used in the piece below.

In 2012, VVD (31+10) and PvdA (30+8) won the elections and formed Cabinet Rutte II. Nine more parties obtained seats: PVV (15), SP (15), CDA (13), D66 (12), CU (5), GL (4), SGP (3), PvdD (2), 50PLUS (2). During the term, some members left and became independents, some were replaced by members of the same party and some started new ones. Only the original eleven parties are taken into account below.

Between November 20th, 2012 and February 23rd, 2017, the 8384 bills were proposed of which 42% passed and were referred to the Senate (3482 passed against 4902 rejected). These encompass 585 dossiers for an average of ~14 bills each. Yearly budgets for various government agencies and ministries were most often voted on. In 2016, this happened 461 times (45% passed).

On some issues, members easily agreed: 552 bills passed without any votes against them, nine bills were rejected with one vote in favour, and 94 more were rejected with at most five votes in favour. For example, the House voted eleven times on bills regarding diminished support for the incumbent regime in Eritrea and various issues concerning fallback in the Horn of Africa, and ten bills passed (91%). On other issues the House was divided. A bill to change the laws regarding abuse of authority was rejected on a single vote, and 61 other passed or were rejected with a two vote difference. Members voted on rent-control seventeen times, and not one bill was passed. The same goes for salary caps in the public sectors, ten bills were put to a vote and all were rejected.

Proposing Bills
SP sponsored most bills, a total of 2396 over the course of four years (29%), followed by D66 (24%)  and CDA (22%). These include both bills for which a member of the party was listed as the primary sponsor, and instances in which they were listed as secondary sponsors. Overall, a party is the primary sponsor on 58% of bills they sponsor. For SP, this is 63%, D66 61% and CDA 58%. SGP, a much smaller party at three seats, is the primary sponsor in merely 34% of cases.

Bills proposed during Cabinet Rutte II (2012-2017).

Government parties VVD (88%) and PvdA (94%) predictably get most of their bills passed, followed by D66 (51%) and CU (44%). Contrarily, PVV passed a mere 6% of 742 bills for which one of their members is listed as a primary sponsor.

On average, bills are sponsored by 1.8 members. Out of 8380 bills, 44% is sponsors by more than one member. Out of all co-sponsored bills, 445 (or 12%) are co-sponsored by members of the same party and 32% are co-sponsored by three parties or more. A majority of 56% are co-sponsored by members of two parties, a total of 2044 of which 322 are bills proposed by government parties VVD and PvdA. Overall 38% of bills are sponsored by more than one party. As one would expect collaboration pays off, with co-sponsored bills being significantly more likely to pass in the House than those submitted by a single member (Chi Square: value = 585, p<0.000; correlation test: r2=23%).

SGP (70%), PvdA (58%), and CU (58%) propose most co-sponsored bills, but D66 is most involved in collaborations on an individual level (1536), followed by SP (1416), and CDA (1335). Individually, Carla Dik-Faber (CU) sponsored most at 554 (304 as the primary sponsor), followed by Liesbeth van Tongeren (GL) (271/537) and Stientje van Veldhoven (D66) (207/434). The highest number of sponsors for one bill is twelve. This happened three times, and each of those bills passed. The left figure show the top ten of members who sponsored most bills. Surprisingly this list is dominated by members of relatively small parties. The figure on the right shows the same list extended with the top ten most successful members. Kees van der Staaij (SGP) has the highest success rate in the opposition, leading a small right-wing Christian conservative party.


Though there are plenty parties to choose from, each trying to emphasise their own specific qualities and policies, some turn out to not be so different. The figure below shows the percentage of votes in which two parties voted the same way for 8380 proposed bills with any party as a primary sponsor. The results are limited to those parties that agree in at last 75% of all cases.

Notable is that government parties PvdA and VVD – inherently different in principle and policy – agreed in 80% of cases. On the side of the opposition, there seems to be a firm left block consisting of GroenLinks, SP and PvdD. GroenLinks in turn is not too far from the progressive stances of D66. On the right there is a Christian conservative block consisting of CU, SGP and CDA. Held together by the most conservative of the three, SGP. Lastly, CU and D66 form the connected between left and right, voting the same in 75% despite being seemingly far removed from each other in terms of social values.

There are no 75%+ linkages between government and opposition, and PVV is left off the chart altogether as a result of this limit; it is most comparable in voting behaviour to CDA at 57%.

Least compatible are PvdD and VVD (36%), SP and VVD (38%), GL and PVV (41%), GL and VVD (43%) and PVV and PvdD (43%).

Identical voting behaviour (75% and over).
Image credit

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