Jokers in two ways?

14 and . Translated from a 2017 Dutch text, by the author himself, using suggestions from DeepL and Google Translate where they were usable.

They just don’t care

Those who do not vote apparently do not care what policies are pursued. My proposal is to harness that non-choice for critical stability. There are two manners of implementing this, both with the same result.


One way is to do the calculation from numbers of votes to numbers of seats over again, but now relating the numbers of votes per party not to the total number of valid votes cast, but instead to the number of people entitled to vote. That results in non-voters automatically getting their own ‘party’ in parliament. Its seats are not occupied by real people, but their predetermined voting behaviour is actually taken into account in votings.

To determine whether a proposal has been passed, as before what is decisive (if all living MPs are present) is whether there are more votes in favour than half the total number of seats. With 150 seats like in the Dutch House of Representatives, that means at least 76.

Advantage: such a fixed requirement of 76 is clear and simple. Disadvantage: the Kieswet or the Electoral Act will probably have to be amended to calculate the number of seats in a different way.

I used this type of calculation in earlier spreadsheets, like in September 2010, June 2011, and October 2016.

I also used it in 2017, for the original of this translation, arriving at this for the 15 March 2017 Dutch parliament election result.

It shows what I already saw right after the exit polls, but which was brought as an entirely new viewpoint several times in the course of the ongoing coalition formation process: the only possibility was VVD-CDA-D66-GL, because VVD-CDA-D66-CU was too fragile and VVD-CDA-D66-PvdA was unrealistic because the PvdA lost heavily.

However, with my idea of counting the non-voters, VVD+CDA+D66 also becomes quite possible (86 seats), and (which I personally regret) also VVD+PVV+CDA (86) and VVD+PVV+CDA+50Plus (89).

An extra party

The seat distribution could also be calculated in the traditional way. Conceptually, the number of seats in the Chamber increases, but only a 150 seats are actually occupied by real people.

Where 76 seats used to be enough for a majority, this now depends on turnout in the elections. For example, with a turnout of 75%, 25% of those entitled to vote did not vote. That is a third of those who did vote. The voters stand for 150 seats, so the non-voters stand for 50 seats.

At a 77,7% turnout there are 43 virtual seats, at 81,56% (which is what the Electoral Council determined based on counts of valid votes and eligible voters) there are still 34: one more than the election result of the largest party VVD: 33.

The effect for possible coalitions is the same as that of the first method. That has to be, of course, so that provides a check.

The advantage of this second approach is that the Constitution and Electoral Act can probably remain unchanged, and an amendment to the Rules of Order of the House of Representatives may be sufficient.

Addition on 13 January 2024: See also Voluntary stabilisation for a third manner of implementing the idea.