On Monday February 28, candidates from over a dozen political parties will face each other in a debate on the upcoming municipal elections. The politicians are expected to present their positions on issues of real interest to the city’s non-Dutch residents such as the worsening housing crisis, job prospects and the region’s friendliness to internationals.
The event, co-hosted by Groningen’s Student Association for International Relations (SIB) and the Forum, will start at 8pm, and will be held entirely in English to meet the needs of the city’s numerous expatriates and foreign students.
According to the organizers, “party candidates will deliver pitches about their propositions on how to make Groningen a better place to live. The candidates will then take part in the town hall round, where they will answer questions from the participants about different topics. In the last round, politicians will have 1 minute each to convince the audience to vote for them.”
Groningen’s current administration is a coalition between left-wing green party GroenLinks, the Labor party (PvdA), liberal democratic party D66, the Socialists (SP), the right-wing Liberal VVD, the Christian Democrats (CDA), and six smaller parties, including the radical-right, anti-immigration PVV. Although none of the municipal parties produced English language versions of their programs, they appear to be eager to target the international vote.
Foreigners are a sizeable but under-served constituency in the upcoming municipal elections, with thousands of non-Dutch citizens eligible to vote. Most permanent residents of the Netherlands are eligible to cast a ballot in the poll, but few foreigners actually vote.
By organizing the debate in English, SIB, in addition to providing an insight into local politics in Groningen, aims to motivate foreign nationals and international students to use their democratic right to vote.
On the 28th of February at 20:00 in @forum_groningen, several parties will have a debate on how they approach issues the next city council will face, such as the #HousingCrisis or #internationalisation of #Groningen. Interested? Get your free ticket via https://t.co/L5ugCq1Stl
— SIB Groningen (@SIBGroningen) February 22, 2022
Earlier, the municipality of Groningen launched Vote Compass for the March 16 ballot, an English-language online electoral literacy tool, designed specially for the city’s ‘expat’ voters. The new voter engagement tool asks you 30 questions on issues that range from local taxes and parking in the city center to schools and wind turbines. You can then compare what you had to say with how the 16 parties that participate in the campaign look at each of the issues.