Edition 2020

Photo description: Older woman in a red coat, standing in a polling booth.

Who are eligible to vote?

It is estimated that 13.1 million inhabitants will be able to vote in the coming elections for the House of Representatives. This is 93 percent of the Dutch population aged 18 and over. Half of the Dutch population is interested in politics and in the last five years 45 percent have participated in some form of political activity.

19%under 186%non-Dutchfirst-time voters5%Who are eligible to vote?
are allowed to vote

More than a million adults in the Netherlands do not have the right to vote in the elections for the House of Representatives that will be held on Wednesday 17 March 2021; this is almost always because they do not have Dutch nationality.

Persons not entitled to vote mostly have a western migration background

Adults without Dutch nationality are chiefly people with a migration background who were born abroad (first generation). Of these, 577 thousand have a western migration background and 400 thousand a non-western one. The percentage of people not entitled to vote is much higher among the first generation with a western migration background (67 percent of the 861 thousand) than among adults with a non-western migration background (32 percent of the 1.2 million). Virtually all members of the second generation (born in the Netherlands) are entitled to vote.

Voting-age population not eligible to vote, by migration background, as of 17 March 2021 (x 1,000)
Achergrond Number
Western .
Non-western .

Relatively fewer people entitled to vote in major cities

At 14 percent, extremely urbanised municipalities have relatively the most residents who are not entitled to vote. In Amsterdam, but also in the neighbouring municipalities of Diemen and Amstelveen, this is almost 20 percent. Other municipalities that stand out are municipalities with high student numbers such as Delft and Wageningen. However, the municipality of Vaals beats them all, as one third of the population aged 18 and over is not eligible to vote.

In Tubbergen, closely followed by Dantumadiel, almost everyone aged 18 and over is entitled to vote (99 percent).

Less interest in politics among the non-Dutch

Half of the Dutch population aged 15 years and older say they are fairly or very interested in political issues.noot1 At 36 percent, interest in politics is much lower among people without Dutch nationality. People with a western migration background who have Dutch nationality have more interest in politics than people who are not Dutch nationals, at 55 percent and 43 percent, respectively. For people with a non-western migration background, this proportion is 41 percent (Dutch nationality) and 27 percent (no Dutch nationality), respectively.

While 45 percent of people with a Dutch passport had taken part in some form of political activity over the past five years, this figure is 42 percent for non-Dutch nationals.

Interest in politics and political actions, 2012/2019 (%)
Political interest: fairly/very high Political actions in past 5 years
Total 50.4 45.2
Dutch nationals 51.0 45.3
Non-Dutch nationals 36.1 42.2
. .
Western migration background . .
Total 52.7 47.5
Dutch nationals 55.4 46.8
Non-Dutch nationals 43.3 50.2
. .
Non-western migration background . .
Total 38.8 38.8
Dutch nationals 40.9 40.0
Non-Dutch nationals 26.8 31.9

More trust in institutions among non-Dutch

In the period 2012 through to 2019, 6 out of 10 people aged 15 years and older expressed confidence in their fellow man. For people without Dutch nationality, this figure is lower (52 percent). At 49 percent, trust in the House of Representatives is much higher among people without Dutch nationality than among Dutch nationals (37 percent).

The questions


Interest in politics and political activities:

Participation in political activities was determined by asking the participants in the study whether they have participated in the following activities in a political context in the last five years:

(1) via radio, TV or newspaper; (2) involved in a political party or organisation; (3) attended a public consultation or hearing; (4) contacted a politician or civil servant; (5) participated in a campaign group; (6) participated in a demonstration or protest action; (7) participated in a signature petition; (8) participated in a political campaign via the internet or e-mail; (9) did something else to draw attention to a political issue. Activities 1 through to 4 are regarded as conventional political activities; activities 5 through to 8 as unconventional activities.

The participants in the study were also asked whether they voted in the most recent elections for the House of Representatives and about the extent of their interest in politics.


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Explanation of symbols

Explanation of symbols
Symbol Explanation
Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

About CBS

CBS responds to developments in Dutch society by providing statistical information as facts that matter, and communicates on these facts with the outside world. In doing so, CBS offers insights into current developments in society and helps answer policy questions. Research at CBS is focused on broad trends in society and how these are interrelated.

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Concept & image editing

Irene van Kuik


Anne Blaak

Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Kees Groenenboom

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Elma Wobma

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Gabriëlle de Vet

Frans Dinnissen

Final editing

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

We thank all other colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in Numbers.