From our Netherlands correspondent THE Catholic People's Party in the Netherlands has emerged from the Provincial Council elections with the highest number of seats, beating the Labour Party with a majority of nearly 250,000 votes. Another party that gained from this poll was the Liberal Party which saw an increase of nearly 200,000 votes over its total for the 1954 elections.
The Catholic People's Party now holds 190 seats against 186 in 1954, while the Labour Party holds 178 seats against 180 in 1954. The Labour Party had made great progress in the 1956 elections for the second chamber (the House of Commons), when they beat the Catholic Party by a small margin.
This progress has not only come to a standstill, but these elections have shown that the Labour Party has lost many supporters since 1956. This is clearly shown by a comparison of percentages.
While in 1956 the Catholic People's Party obtained 31.71 per cent. of the votes, against 32.70 for the Labour Party, this year the Catholics had 32.89 per cent. of the votes against 28.65 for the Labour Party. The Communist Party had another slight set-hack and went down from 5.32 per cent. to 4.14.
The Protestant parties nearly held their own with 21.42 per cent. of the votes.. The Liberals obtained 11.40 per cent. Another 1.50 per cent. of the electorate went to one or two smaller parties.
Elections in this country do not normally cause much excitement, since they always follow more or Tess the same pattern. The shift of party balance came therefore as a surprise, all the more so because everybody's attention was focused ,on the royal visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip..
The Foreign Secretary. Dr. I. Luns. of the Catholic Party, when asked his opinion of the election results gave as one of the reasons for the change : " The electorate is getting fed up with being too much mothered and directed."
Another reason may be found in the unpopular milk policy of the Labour Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Vondeling. The vote of the miners in the southern part of the country was certainly influenced by the fight put up for improvement in their wages by the Catholic Miners' Union.