Municipal council elections will be held across the Netherlands on Wednesday, 21 March (with a few exceptions). We’ve created a cheat sheet for you explaining what the municipal council does, what the main issues are, who gets to vote and why certain areas are not voting this week.
By Traci White and Matthijs van Houten
What issues will people be voting on in the province of…
Groningen: affordable housing to replace damaged homes, town ambassadors as local contact points for the municipality, provisions for people denied asylum, property taxes, stores setting their own hours, requiring unemployment benefit recipients to do volunteer work, compensation for caregivers
Friesland: potential mergers of smaller municipalities, affordable housing on the islands, merging resources to combat population shrinking (combined use facilities), balance between tourism and quality of life for locals, job creation
Drenthe: permitting people to live at camp grounds, funding for cultural organisations, solar panels and sustainability, taxation based on garbage produced per household, discounts for lower income individuals to participate in sports and culture, spending money on getting youth involved in politics, lower taxes for tourists, not requiring gas connections for new houses, community centres
Why aren’t people voting in certain places?
More and more municipalities across the Netherlands are merging because they are increasingly responsible for more governance tasks. The Dutch government wants municipalities to get together so that they can take on more work at the local level.
Take Groningen, for example: the province used to have 23 municipalities, but that is now down to eight. The new borders of the municipalities will officially come into effect in some places on 1 January 2019, which is why elections will be held at a later date. A merger took place last year in Leeuwarden, so they were able to hold local elections in November of 2017. In Drenthe, the mergers began back in 1998: once upon a time, the province had 34 municipalities, but now that is down to 12.
Municipalities where elections were held on 22 November 2017:
Leeuwarden (Leeuwarden, Stiens and Grou)
Midden-Groningen (Hoogezand-Sappemeer, Slochteren and Menterwolde)
Súdwest-Fryslân (Bolsward and Sneek)
Waadhoeke (Franeker and Menaldum)
Municipalities where elections will be held on 21 November, 2018:
Het Hogeland (merger of Bedum, De Marne, Eemsmond and Winsum)
Groningen (merger of Groningen, Haren and Ten Boer)
Westerkwartier (merger of Grootegast, Leek, Marum and Zuidhorn)
If your municipality is not listed here, then elections will be held where you live on Wednesday.
|The following except is from a DutchNews article explaining the basics of what the councils do.
How do local councils work and what do they do?
Local councils, or gemeentes are the third tier in the Dutch government system, below the national and provincial authorities.
How many councillors does a gemeenteraad have?
Local councils are run by the mayor (who is appointed by the crown) and a team of wethouders, or aldermen. The college van burgemeester en wethouders (B&W) is the local authority equivalent of the cabinet.
Who can vote?
What about the referendum?
Photo illustration: Omrop Fryslân