Dutch Language Blog

An important day in the Netherlands – time to go vote! Posted by on Mar 19, 2014 in Dutch Vocabulary

Today, March 19, the gemeenteraadsverkiezingen (municipal, or local elections) are held in the Netherlands. They are more important than ever this year, because the gemeenten(municipalities) have more competencies than ever. For example, now they also take on the gezondheidszorg (health care), which is a big issue for the Dutch. However, the kiezersopkomst (voter turn-out) is likely to decrease further, from a national average of 53% last year to a 43% this year. Of course I cannot make any conclusions before voting closes, so we will have to see – tonight it was said on the radio that the kiezersopkomst was already 48%, so it is definitely higher than expected in the first place.

I live in in the gemeente Maastricht, in the province Limburg. So I can go to the stembureau (polling station) to give my vote until 9 pm. There is a variety of politieke partijen (political parties). There are the landelijke partijen (national parties) and the lokale partijen (local parties). Only here in Maastricht, I have a choice out of 12 partijen. The reason for this great amount of partijen is the way democracy is organized. The system used is called evenredige vertegenwoordiging (proportional representation). Burgers vote for people, not partijen. Every gemeenteraad (municipal council) is made up of zetels (seats). Each zetel represents a certain number of burgers (citizens). A partij has a lijst (list). On this lijst, the most favored candidate of the party is number 1. This will be the candidate that is most likely to get the votes from the people. It runs through to the last candidate of the partij that wants to be in the gemeenteraad. When I vote today, I have the choice to vote for a person of a partij. This vote counts for the partij, and for the person I voted on. The total amount of votes of a partij is worth a certain amount of zetels.

Maastricht has 39 zetels in its gemeenteraad. Let’s say in Maastricht 100.000 burgers vote. Then each zetel is worth 100.000/39 = 2564 stemmen (votes). So when a party reaches 2564 stemmen, it has 1 zetel. The person that got most stemmen for its partij, will get that first zetel. If the party got more than 1 zetel, the person that got the second most stemmen for its partij will get the second zetel, and so on. So no majority is needed to be in the gemeenteraad, and thus there is a great amount of partijen. The same counts for the elections for the Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber, the Dutch House of Representatives), and thus there is also a great amount of landelijke partijen.

Below I only provided the landelijke partijen, because those are found all over the country.

Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA) – the landelijke Labour partij.

Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD) – the center-right, conservative partij.

Christen-Democratisch Appel (CDA) – the Christian partij, very centered as well.

Socialistische Partij (SP) – the socialist, left partij.

Democraten 66 (D66) – the democratic partij, founded in 1966 (therefore D66).

GroenLinks – the green, left partij (GroenLinks literally means GreenLeft).

So what party am I going to vote on? The stemwijzer (no exact translation, literally it means vote director, and it is a bit like http://voteforpolicies.org.uk/),




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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.