Laan van Nieuw Oost-Indië 275, The Hague, The Netherlands +31(0)70 365 46 77

Word of the day: stemwijzer (vote match)

‘Why is there no vote match (stemwijzer)?’ was one of the questions which came up at last Sunday’s debate in the Hague Central Library. The question was put forward by a German expat living in The Hague. He had told me that he had not got a clue (keine blasse Ahnung, pas la moindre idée, geen flauw idee) what to vote on 19 March in the municipal elections. All expats need ‘ein Wahl-O-Mat’, ‘un politest’, ‘a vote match’! The Dutch name of such a machine is ‘stemwijzer’ (vote indicator). The Dutch list of parties and candidates is an infernal menu for people who don’t speak Dutch. All these parties with their weird abbreviations and obscure names. Here are a few:


VVD -> Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, Liberal),
D66 -> Democraten 66 (Democrats 66 – the party was founded in 1966, Social liberal)
PvdA -> Partij van de Arbeid (Labour Party, Social democratic)
CDA -> Christendemocratisch Appel (Christian Democratic Appeal, Christian democratic)
PVV -> Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom, Freedom Party, Wilders’ Party)

Enzovoort, and so forth, and so on. The Hague has 19 parties on its political menu and their names tell little to nothing about their intentions. What outlook does the local party Haagse Stadspartij (Hague City Party), for instance, represent? Socialist, communist, evangelical, democratic, liberal? And what does ‘vrijheid’ (freedom) mean in the names of the VVD and the PVV. Aren’t all parties in favour of liberty? Whose liberty? What kind of liberty? Would you vote for a Party not in favour of freedom, a party called PVS, Partij voor Slavernij (Party for Bondage)?

Deputy mayor and alderman Ingrid van Engelshoven thought it a good idea to create a ‘stemwijzer’ for internationals in The Hague. However, I fear that such a Hague ‘Wahl-O-Mat’, ‘politest’, ‘vote match’ will not be ready in time. So what can you do? You could write, mail or phone all nineteen party leaders and ask them to explain to you what they stand for.

– You could invite your Dutch neighbour and force him or her to translate the various party programmes for you.
– You could also immerse yourself in an intensive Direct Dutch course during the next couple of weeks.
– You could wait for the promised English information bulletin and hope that this will be useful.
– Or, and maybe this is the best idea of all, you could go to one of the next two debates.

Friday 7 March from 13.00 till 15.00 hrs there will be a debate in The Hungry Mind Community Centre (Wijndaelerweg entrance at nr 5)
Petra Brekelmans is moderator and representatives of the four main political parties in The Hague will be present to answer all your questions.

Tuesday, 11 March starting at 18.00 hrs the Municipality of The Hague will organise a debate in the Atrium of The Hague City Hall (Spui 70). The event is to inform international residents about the local elections on 19 March and to convince them to get out and vote.
Nie Klagûh. Stemmûh! (Don’t complain. Vote!). There will be a political market where expats can meet representatives from all the political parties participating in the municipal elections.
From 18.30 to 20.00 hrs. Paul Brown will moderate the debate.

Hope to see you at one of these debates!

photo: Arthur van Dijk, Studio A (thanks)