Campaign Appearances

Election Campaigning
The Dutch are going to the polls tomorrow to vote for the party/prime minister to lead the country. We had an election not that long ago, but the shaky coalition that had been formed fell apart earlier this year. I’ll leave it to others to comment on whether they think the government formed this time around will last for long.

Political campaigning here in the Netherlands is nothing like it is in the US. Here, it’s a much shorter period and it’s not the same full-on barrage that I experience in the US. It’s only been the last couple of weeks that it has really become more obvious as the political parties — of which there are 22 — have been hitting the streets and squares to encourage people to vote for them. The next two photos were taken from inside the Stadhuis, looking out onto the Stadhuisbrug where a large number of the parties had gathered, including the PvdA, VVD, and Groene Links. PvdA has been particularly active around the city the past two weeks, with signs, balloons, and large groups of supporters out campaigning for them. According to the news, it seems like PvdA is the big challenger to the VVD, the current prime minister’s party.

Election Campaigning

Election Campaigning

One of the national television channels has been hosting a political program with some of the politicians being interviewed. The program is called 1 voor de Verkiezingen (One for the Election, with 1 also being the tv channel). They have set up a temporary studio in the square in front of Het Utrechts Archief. That’s the building pictured in the first photo. They’ve been there for at least two weeks. You can see the building in the first minute of the program that is available on the website, if you want to see it in action, so to speak. Whether you want to listen to Gert Wilders is also up to you.

Election Campaigning

There are posters and big trucks set up around the temporary studio, as seen above. Fortunately, most political posters are limited to designated billboards that go up in a few locations around the city. It’s a bit neater and cleaner than the million and one signs I was used to in the US!

I may not be able to vote in the Dutch elections, but I can still vote in the US elections. If you’re an American living overseas and want to vote this November, make sure you sign up to receive your absentee ballot so you can vote from abroad! Hurry! Time is running out.

Sitting on the Sofa

Rutte?
Despite the rain that’s been with us all day, we headed out to hit up a few shops and the Saturday market. Half a kilo of shrimp for €5, and three stinky cheeses for €5 are pretty decent deals! After running most of the errands, we stopped at Café de Journal in the Neude square for a hot chocolate to take the chill off. As we sat out on the terrace, which fortunately has lots of big umbrellas and even a heater, we saw this group arrive.

PvdA is one of the political parties. Mark Rutte is the current prime minister of the country, but he’s with the VVD party. There’s an election coming up soon, so I guess this is some form of campaigning and perhaps a complaint against Rutte. The sign says, “Met Rutte kom je op de bank te zitten”, which basically means “sit on the sofa with Rutte”. I suppose there is some implied meaning that is just lost in translation. Or not. Anyway, they had a guy there with a paper mask of Rutte and you could get your photo taken seated next to him. No idea how successful they were, since it was raining. Who wants to sit on a soggy sofa? Hopefully someone reading this will be able to explain the whole sofa/Rutte thing. Meanwhile, as they were setting up, we saw a couple of people from D66, one of the other parties, walk past. They restrained themselves from standing behind the sofa and making rude gestures. I bet they at least thought about it.
PvdA

Rock the Vote (Maybe)

You know how I was talking last week about voting and the upcoming municipal elections here in the Netherlands? Well, here’s a website that makes it pretty easy to figure out if you can vote in those elections. The answer for me is a big ol’ no, but it turns out that G can vote. Of course, we also figured that out last week when he got his voter registration card thingy in the mail.

The municipal elections are every four years, and for me to vote, I’ll have had to be a resident here for five years, so that means I will be able to vote the next time around. Jahoe (yahoo)! If you’re curious about the requirements, here’s a bit more information (in English) about the municipal elections and requirements for voting in them and standing for election.

Election Coverage

Strange Finds in the Netherlands

Today, while at the theater, we made a surprising discovery. On the landing outside of the room we were in was a postcard stand with a variety of free postcards. These were some of the ones on offer. Imagine my surprise. A pleasant one, to be sure. I’d meant to get one of these Obama posters or tees before moving, but never got around to it. I love the design. The Bush card took us a moment to decipher — the Arabic style of text is more distracting when first seeing the card — but then we got a laugh.

There are at least two places here in Utrecht where we can go to watch the election coverage if we so choose. Tivoli (one of the big music clubs in town) is doing a huge, all-night event, as is Mick O’Connell’s, the Irish pub nearby. We may go to Mick’s for a little while that night, or we may just stay home and watch the coverage — for a while, at least — and then go to Café de Potdeksel the next night either to celebrate or to drown our sorrows.