Dutch Municipal Elections 2014

Submitted by hadrian on Sun, 03/09/2014 - 00:00

On the nineteenth of March 2014 the Dutch citizenry is supposed to cast its vote in the municipal elections. These elections have become increasingly important because of the Dutch government's policy of decentralizing by giving municipalities more responsibilities. The problems with this policy is a matter for a discussion on its own.

In campaigning the current prime minister, Mark Rutte, visited Amersfoort. Although I was not present at this meeting I was presented with a news article in a local paper. The headline reads a quote by Rutte: 'use your right to vote.' Why, according to this article, do we need to use the right to vote?

According to the article Rutte claims that it's best to vote on national parties who participate locally because the 'local department usually has a closer connection to the provincial and national government.' This single line shows several problems. First of all, Rutte implies that these connections are present because the parties are actually in government at provincial and national levels. Of course, it is also implied that people should vote for coalition parties because they actually have power. To me this is simple blackmail as well as intra-party nepotism. In a way, Rutte told the people attending the meeting that if they not vote for a national (coalition) party that Amersfoort would no longer be a concern of his. A most odious thing to say because he is supposed to represent the entirety of the Dutch citizenry. The implications of this statement run directly against the principle of equality.

In the end, Rutte admits that no party can truly fit with any specific voter's wishes and that one should just choose a party that seems to fit best and see what has changed in four years. It is exactly in this statement that Rutte admits that people have no real power over the government. We are told to choose a party that fits us best and then wait four years to judge them again. In the end, it is merely a demand to legitimize the current state of affairs by surrendering our authority through the vote.

The question that the Dutch people need to ask is whether or not this is the kind of government that we deserve. Do we deserve a government that we can barely influence, especially if we do not have the large amount of resources that some people and companies do? I think not. The representatives in the municipalities are virtually invisible and have become more and more important. It is especially at this level that we could truly achieve some form of liberty. The municipal level forms the best place for early experimentation in innovative ways of self-government and the exercise of personal authority on a level and fair playing field.