Monday 15 February 2010

I can [but should I] VOTE in the Netherlands?

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [in Netherlands] Blog]

On the 11th of February I received an envelope from the Municipality of Amsterdam, telling me I can vote on 3rd of March, 2010, where and when should I vote etc.
The envelope contained 2 (almost) identical cards identifying myself: name, address, post code, date of birth etc. Pretty cool I would say.

I had them translated, via Google Translate: front side and back side.
Apparently I have to bring these 2 cards with me, my passport and a copy of my passport.

I have always been a strong supporter of democracy, and I see voting as the perfect tool to enforce democracy. Therefore, I can barely refrain myself not to go vote.

Q: Who should I vote with? I have no idea what they vote here: lists proposed by parties or people by name?

Q: Why vote only for the City Council? I want to choose the Mayor or something cooler!
Could we vote for a new Queen? That would be awesome!

Mixed feelings regarding this:
  1. I must admit I'm freaked out when thinking to go vote in Netherlands. I have that feeling I'm getting into something it's not my business. I expect them to speak pretty bad English there, which combined to the fact that I do not know how the whole process works here would make the whole thing even weirder - do I want to make the world a weirder place?
  2. However, it would prove my commitment to democracy, voting and so on. I shall become unquestionable in my intentions!
  3. I would become the first (of all of my friends) to have voted in elections counting for a foreign country's politics.
  4. Given my bad experience with the Dutch health care system (I will blog later on this), (1) I'm not sure whether it would be appropriate to interfere with the local governing system, and (2) I have lost the feeling / desire to interact with the system.
Tough decision. Oh well, I'll think about it until then. The MSc project is screaming for me at the moment.

Update - 17th of February

I've received in my mailbox today a free copy of the Verkiezingskrant (en: election newspaper) which technically describes the election process on 12 pages: 11.25 in Dutch and 0.75 in English. Obviously, the English description is pretty shallow, but (hooray!) there are 2 links to 2 websites: one in Dutch and one in (hooray!) English.

The English website seems pretty ok, I shall thoroughly read it in the future.

I like the political parties list (with links to their websites).
Due to a bit of research, I've discovered these parties' representativeness (therefore power) in the Dutch Parliament, which I expect to guide me in my decision process, should I finally decide to vote.

Update - 3rd of March: I voted.


  1. Indeed, I do believe that it is not your business. Not too much anyway. You're there for just one year, that will soon be gone.

    I don't even understand how come they let you vote? For example there will be regional elections here in France soon. But I can't vote, and it seems normal to me.

    Let me put it this way: so they let you vote because you live there for a few months, not even a year. All this time you won't be living in Romania, because you can't be in two places at the same time (actually because it would be too expensive to make it appear so). If at the same time there would be City Council elections in Bucharest, by using the same policy (so we suppose you are not the victim of a non-uniform system) you should not be allowed to vote in Bucharest, because you vote in Amsterdam. Would you agree with that? I think not, and I'm pretty sure about it.

    So if you vote, you'll be exploiting some sort of error in some body's reasoning. Moreover, you don't even know how to use this power, because you have no sufficient knowledge on the current NL and Amsterdam administration (am I wrong?), and yes you would, probably,, in a small proportion, deliver bobcats to some people, because you would mess things up.

    So, think about it: would it be just to vote? Listen to your mind, and to your social conscience.

  2. Voting as an EU citizen in another EU country is a right given in the EU Treaty (Maastricht Treaty) - consolidated version (2008/C 115/01).

    Article 20, point 2.b:
    2. Citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights and be subject to the duties provided for in the Treaties. They shall have, inter alia:
    (b) the right to vote and to stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament and in municipal elections in their Member State of residence, under the same conditions as nationals of that State;

    More info about voting rights here. This page mentions that, in Netherlands, non-EU citizens also have the right to vote, "if they have been legally resident in the Netherlands for five years or more".

    Netherlands has given this right to foreigners in 1986.

    Don't forget to tell us what you're going to do :)

  3. Great argumentation. Thank you.
    I had read long time ago about EU citizens' right to vote in another EU country, but never bothered to look it up thoroughly.

    I guess the EU wants responsible citizens...

    I shall keep you posted, of course.