about the municipal elections
On 16 March, municipal elections will take place in almost the whole of the Netherlands. So back to the polls, but what is it about again? NU.nl will help you on your way with three questions and answers about the local ballot.
1. Crooked pavement tiles don’t interest me. Why should I vote?
For many people, the municipality is mainly known for pruning, sewer tax and the maintenance of the pavement, but the local government is getting more and more tasks under its wings.
Anyone who needs certain care knows that the municipality also plays a role in this. Municipalities must ensure that people can continue to live at home for as long as possible. They organize and reimburse certain help, for example for people with disabilities. The municipality is also responsible for youth care.
Local politics is also about the major crises of the moment, such as the climate and the housing supply. After all, it is up to the municipality whether it uses a piece of land for a tiny forest or for a new block of houses.
The council members who will soon be at the controls will discuss the construction of a theatre, the size of a refugee shelter and the construction of a new cycle path.
In addition, they are the representatives of a city or a village. This means that they have to keep in touch with residents, local organizations and entrepreneurs. It is up to politicians to translate problems and ideas from their environment into policy.
The first facts about the 2022 municipal elections
- You can vote on March 16 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Polling stations will also be open on 14 and 15 March to combat crowds, but not as much as on 16 March.
- With 333 municipalities, most Dutch municipalities hold elections in mid-March. Other municipalities keep them earlier or later because of municipal reorganizations
- An average of nine parties participate per municipality according to a count by BNR Nieuwsradio.
- On March 30, the newly elected council will meet for the first time and old council members will say goodbye
2. Where exactly does my voice go?
You can cast a vote for a candidate for the city council. The higher candidates are on a political party’s list, the more likely they are to end up on the council. Candidate councillors who are placed low but receive a lot of votes can still become councillors through these preferential votes.
The number of politicians in a city council depends on the number of inhabitants that a municipality has. Small municipalities (with less than three thousand inhabitants) have a nine-member council. The largest municipal councils (more than 200,001 inhabitants) consist of 45 people.
The city council is the highest part of the municipality. Councillors make all the important decisions. They check whether the mayor and aldermen are implementing the policy properly. They also make the municipal budget and check the council whether the money has been spent as agreed.
“Why should I vote?” Three questions about the municipal elections
3. What do the mayor and aldermen have to do with it?
The first thing a new city council has to do is negotiate the composition of the college of mayor and aldermen. Parties usually try to make a combination that accounts for more than half of the seats. If that succeeds, then the college has a majority.
Councillors elect the aldermen. Depending on the population, this is two to nine. Sometimes they are council members (who then resign from that position) and sometimes they are people from outside. The mayor’s appointment is once every six years and does not coincide with the municipal elections.
The mayor is the president of the city council. He leads the meetings, but does not vote. In addition to the presidency, a mayor decides, for example, whether a demonstration can take place and when a seedy café must close. These are matters that fall under security and public order.
The mayor is the head of what is often called the local triangle (mayor, police and public prosecutor).
Aldermen each have their own portfolio. They are responsible for various departments within a municipality, such as healthcare, traffic, education or diversity.
You can vote if you meet the following conditions:
- You are eighteen years or older.
- You live in a Dutch municipality.
- You are not excluded from the right to vote.
- You have a Dutch nationality, you are an EU citizen or you live legally and continuously in the Netherlands for five years on 31 January. Those who have a valid residence permit for five years may also vote.
- People from outside the European Union who work for an international organisation or who, for example, are diplomats also have the right to vote, provided that they meet the other conditions.
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