Woordenboek Woensdag: Stemmen

Pushing It
It’s election dag (verkiezingedag) today in the Netherlands, as citizens head to the polls (stemlokaal or stembureau) to cast their vote for one of the 19 parties on the ballot (stem, stembiljet). Noticing a bit of a running theme in the Dutch words? De stem is the noun for vote and stemmen is the verb to vote. Interestingly, stem is also the word for voice. Appropriate, don’t you think, since a vote is a citizen’s way to voice one’s opinion.

Politics (politiek) are a bit different from what I was used to in the US. As I mentioned, there are 19 parties on the ballot this year, compared to the small handful of parties (and really, only 2-3 viable ones) in the US. Here, you vote for a party, rather than an individual, although it’s generally known who the party will choose to serve as Prime Minister if they win the majority. But realistically, it’s not one party in power; it’s a coalition (coalitie) of parties, and that influences how people vote. Parties give hints as to which parties they would form a coalition with, and if you don’t like the possible pairings, that can influence your vote. As it is, we may know the voting outcomes by tomorrow, but finding out the ultimate coalitions could take weeks as they try to come to some sort of agreement between the parties. It’s not uncommon to have four parties making up the ruling coalition.

One last bit of Dutch voting trivia: Here, you can have a friend, family member, or neighbor vote for you if you’re not going to be able to physically go vote on your own. You’d better have a lot of faith in that person, though! How tempting it could be to change the person’s vote if you don’t agree! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The stand-in voter does still have to be a Dutch citizen, however, so I wouldn’t be able to fill in for anyone.

The photo above is from the last election I voted in in the US before moving. No campaign (campagne) posters or materials are allowed past a certain point outside the polling place. Here, I’ve only really seen campaign posters in one or two designated spots. It’s certainly neater and cleaner! And here’s a photo from earlier this year at the municipal elections (gemeenteraadsverkiezingen). It’s a repeat photo, but it shows the use of stemstemdistrict — and has a bonus of a cute dog.

6 thoughts on “Woordenboek Woensdag: Stemmen

  1. I really like how you’ve explained everything here! Good job.
    The differences that you’ve marked between the system and procedures here, are the same I can mark between Argentina and NL. The aspect that I find the most remarkable is the way in which they negotiate the formation of the gov’t after an election. I think that is something very Dutch, don’t you think?

    • There are certainly pros and cons to both styles of government formation. It’s been interesting getting to know how it’s done here. I kind of like the coalition/negotiation idea, since I think negotiation is sometimes sadly missing in US politics. Regardless, it does seem quite Dutch.

  2. Cool post!

    Our hood has had signs popping up in windows the past few weeks. A few shocked me- not sure why, but I was left thinking, ‘oooooh….so you like…???’

    the best is a house in which the woman put up her party sign and the guy his. Totally opposite in terms of party goals. Love conquers all I guess!

    • I haven’t noticed a lot of signs in our neighborhood, in fact, I think I remember more for the municipal election! At least I kind of agree with the ones I’ve seen here. We were always surrounded by lots of opposition signs in the US. We developed a strong dislike for the owners of one particular house we passed regularly, despite not knowing them. But they had MASSIVE yard signs for politicians I despised. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The mixed households are always the most amusing though! I always wonder what it’s like as they watch the results come in. At least here there’s a chance that both can sort of win if they end up in the same coalition, I guess!

  3. I too like the way you explain things ๐Ÿ™‚ I went with my husband lastnight while he voted and then we stayed up until we knew who was pretty much going to win. Very interesting about Wilders!

    • I thought about watching the results, but figured I’d just wait until the morning, since it will still take a while to get the final coalition decisions anyway. Now I’m still trying to understand just what it all means and where Wilders is going to fit in (or hopefully not!).

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