(Editor’s note: The 3 March debate at Eindhoven City Hall will be in English. The capacity in the common space at the entrance is 50 people.)
You live here. You pay taxes here. Did you know you can vote in municipal elections even though you’re not a Dutch citizen? The Netherlands is one of the European Union countries that allows expats to vote in municipal elections (though not parliamentary elections), with certain conditions (see below).
In fact, internationals in Eindhoven, represent about 12 percent of the voters in Eindhoven, according to DutchNews.nl – 22,000 out of 186,936. (See details on each party at the end of this post.)
To help you understand party positions, the Eindhoven election debate in English is coming up on 3 March from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Eindhoven City Hall. (The elections are 14, 15 and 16 March.)
Eindhoven News is sponsoring the event, and the event will have representatives from as many of the parties as possible, according to organizers.
Committed so far are:
• CDA city counsellor Miriam Frosi
• PvdA councillor Tjeerd S. Ritmeester
• GroenLinks councillor Eva De Bruijn
• Robin Brokmann of VOLT
• VVD candidate Len Snelders
• Represenative of D66 to be announced
Debate topics will include:
• the condition of immigrants
• the language used at the municipality
• international students
Moderator will be Beena Arunraj, editor-in-chief at the Eindhoven News.
Important background and details
To be eligible to vote in the city council elections, you must be:
• over 18 years of age
• registered with the municipality (gemeente) where you live
• either an EU citizen or a non-EU citizen who has lived in the Netherlands for at least five consecutive, uninterrupted years.
The good news is, you don’t have to register to vote. Just registering with your local gemeente makes you eligible, and they’ll mail you a voting pass. Take that pass to your polling station, which is typically a local school, and vote.
The day of the election is 16 March, but the polls open two days early and you can drop off your ballot.
DutchNews.NL has a post about how political parties are more aggressively pursuing internationals in Eindhoven who are eligible to vote. GroenLinks has set up a digital tool so that foreigners living in the Dutch capital can find out quickly if they are eligible to vote. D66 has launched an international section for city residents, and newcomer Volt is also targeting expat voters.
Local city councillors deal with local issues, including municipal budgets, waste pickup, enforcement of local laws and ordinances.
Here’s a one-sentence synopsis of each party:
CDA is a moderate Christian Democratic party, pro-business and centrist. But of course you don’t have to be Christian to join … it represents all groups.
D66 is an internationally minded liberal-democratic party.
PvdA is the labor party, and access to housing is a top priority.
VVD Party is a center-right party and the party of the current Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Gewoon Eindhoven is the party of justice through inclusivity.
GroenLinks is an environmental action party.
The Pirate Party is a party dedicated to a more open, transparent, democratic and equal society.
The PvdD is a party representing the international animal rights movement.
Volt Eindhoven is part of a larger international movement for sustainability, equal opportunities, transparency and greater participation for all people.
(Editor’s note: If you are, say, American or British, Dutch politics can be confusing because there are just so many parties. StemWijzer is a tool that helps you decide which party has a platform closest to your views.)
Read more about Eindhoven here in our archives.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.