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Dutch Elections: Vote for City Council Posted by on Mar 20, 2018 in Politics

On March 21st, the elections in the Netherlands will be for local officials and the WIV referendum which I wrote about last week. But who are the city officials and why should you vote?

Who can vote?

Local elections in the Netherlands take place every four years, and these elections have more eligible voters because residents from EU countries and non-EU residents with 5+ years living in the Netherlands can vote. In national elections, only Dutch citizens can vote, including those living abroad.

The last local elections were held in 2014 and only 54% of eligible voters actually voted, an all-time low according to this NOS article. This number should be very shocking considering that in last year’s elections, those for the tweede kamerverkiezing, 81.9% of eligible voters voted.

This article from the CBS has some very interesting statistics about the ages of eligible voters per city.

Why should you vote?

While it might seem that local elections are unimportant, choosing your city or town council is important because these are the people who make decisions about the things that affect your day-to-day life. Whether you are registering at a particular gemeente, paying taxes for your dog, or requesting a passport and driver’s license, the decisions made by your gemeenteraad affect you.

The gemeenteraad or town council also make sure there are enough places to practice sports such as football fields and swimming pools. These are also responsible for safety in streets, parking lots, around train stations, among others. If streets need special fietspadden or new pavement, the gemeente is responsible for these projects. City councils also fund your local library and local language classes and help people with health issues. These also provide the vergunningen for new constructions, stores, and residential areas.

Like I said before, the decisions of the gemeenteraad affect you more directly than those of the tweede kamer.

Who should you vote for?

I am certainly not going to promote any political party, but I do have some suggestions on how you can inform yourself about who is running for gemeenteraad and what their positions are. If you receive your city’s newspaper or magazine, you can be sure that one of the latest issues has the different political parties with their stand on different general issues. This comparison is quite useful because you can see an overview of all parties all at once. You might also have received several brochures and pamphlets at home with some election material. Check what the party’s material says about the issues important to them.

Campaign Posters in Beek, the Netherlands (personal photograph)

You can also go to your city’s political poster area, usually in the city center, where all candidates have placed their promo material. This wont tell you much about their stance on different issues, but you can get a good idea of who is running, and from there do your research. The show Zondach met Lubach has a very funny video about these posters.

By now we are all aware (I hope) of how easy it is to promote “fake news” and the role Facebook had on many elections around the world such as the US. Nonetheless, another source you can look into is your city’s social media channels as well as those of the political parties. Read their comments but also the conversations going on in the comments. Is the party responsive to the comments and questions? What are people concerned with? Do you share their concerns?

The more informed and critical you are of everything you read, the better!

Where should you vote?

Okay so you’ve (hopefully) seen the importance of local elections, and you have informed yourself about the different parties and candidates. Where and how do you vote?

If you are eligible to vote, you should have received by now two stempasses for the elections. One is for the gemeenteraad and the other for the referendum over de Wet op de inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten (Wiv). On your stempas, you can find information about the nearest voting poll is, and you should also receive a list of all the voting polls in your city. You can vote in any of these. Go to your preferred place with the stempas and your valid ID. You will receive a stembiljet where you will register your vote. Put your stembiljet in the voting box and you have completed your civic duty!

Who won?

According to the website Kiesraad.nl, the results will be given out as follows:

Op vrijdag 23 maart om 10.00 uur stelt elk gemeentelijk centraal stembureau de officiële uitslag van de verkiezing in die gemeente vast in een openbare zitting. Op donderdag 29 maart om 11.00 uur stelt de Kiesraad de officiële uitslag van het referendum over de Wiv vast in een openbare zitting. Woensdagavond 21 maart wordt in de media de voorlopige uitslag van de verkiezingen en het referendum bekendgemaakt. Deze officieuze uitslag van de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen is gebaseerd op sneltellingen door stembureaus op het niveau van partijen, niet op het niveau van kandidaten.

Remember that the results of the referendum are not binding for the government. This is merely an advise.

Will you vote in the local elections?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!