(Re)Election Day

Dawn of a New Day
Today is officially election day in the US. Like many expats — and even many people living in the US — I took advantage of early voting, which in my case is more specifically absentee voting. As long as I remain a US citizen, I can continue to vote in US elections. Technically, I vote on the North Carolina ballot, since that was my last place of residence.

I may not live there any more, and I may have no plans to go back, but I have family and friends there who can be directly impacted by who the president is. It also impacts other countries, including the EU, and since I live in the EU, it’s all still relevant.

Pushing It

I was able to email a PDF of my ballot (fax and regular mail were also options), and I still have a copy of my ballot. I was very careful as I filled in the circles, joking that I didn’t want any “hanging chad” issues interfering with my vote! It was nice to physically fill something in, but I do miss going to my local polling place and casting my vote. I always got a bit of a thrill from it all.

Brave Hond [Day 62/365]
Fortunately, I will get my chance to physically cast my vote the next time there are municipal elections here in Utrecht. By then, I’ll have been here long enough to qualify to vote. I can’t vote in national elections here unless I become a Dutch citizen, but they kindly do allow legal residents who have been here a certain amount of time to vote in local elections. It makes sense that we get to have a say on local issues that affect us. No longer will I be like that little doggy, relegated to waiting for someone else to finish voting.

If you feel like voting — or voting some more — you can always vote for me by leaving a comment on this page about my blog. I promise to be a benevolent top-blog ruler if I win! Massive thanks to those of you who have already commented. I am truly touched by the comments you’ve left.

(Mid-term) Election Day

Dutch Political Parties [Day 158/365]
I’ve got Arcadia’s song Election Day stuck in my head today. I may not be in the US, but I’m more than aware of the mid-term elections taking place there today. I have no idea how things will go this time; for every person ranting about the Democrats, there seems to be an equal number of people opposed to the Republicans/Tea Party candidates. I’m curious what the voter turnout will end up being, since a lot of people on both sides seem pretty motivated, and a lot of people have been taking advantage of the option to do early voting.

One thing I definitely don’t miss about elections in the US is the deluge of political commercials. They so rarely say what the candidates goals and plans are; they’re just an excuse to attack the opponent. From what I understand, political commercials are technically an option here in the Netherlands, but I’m not sure how much they’re used. Regardless, if/when they’re created, they’re done by the party, rather than individuals, I think. They’re also not aired constantly. In fact, I’ve never actually seen one. That could be because they’re so rare or because I don’t watch a lot of Dutch television channels. Or a bit of both!

As I’ve mentioned before, the campaign season here is fairly short — although the time it takes to finally agree on a government coalition can be quite long — and it’s generally somewhat less obnoxious than US campaigns. It’s certainly not perfect, and we get our fair share of awful candidates, but at least it’s not quite as in-your-face and irritating as I remember things getting in the US before I moved. I don’t miss the constant commercials, the huge campaign signs in every yard, and the campaign phone calls, both robotic and real. I still get quite a few political e-mails on a daily basis as the elections draw near. That’s more than enough for me! There’s a fine line between motivation and irritation, even for a politically concerned person like myself.

But don’t let the ugliness stop you from voting. Do your duty! Go vote! (Preferably Democratic. ūüėČ )

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! ūüėČ 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.
Waiting

Politics at a Glance

  • VVD¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 22%
  • D66¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 14%
  • SP¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 12%
  • PvdA¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 11%
  • Trots op Nederland¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 10%
  • Partij van de Eenvoud¬†¬†¬†¬† 9%
  • GroenLinks¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 8%
  • Leefbaar Utrecht¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 5%
  • PVU¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 5%
  • CDA¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 4%
  • Christen Unie¬†¬†¬† ¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 1%
  • De Groenen¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 0%

One of the local free papers we get is the Stadsblad, which is currently running a poll to gage the direction people are planning on voting this Wednesday in the municipal elections. It’s curious to note that the CDA and Christen Unie — the main parties that were in power until the government recently dissolved — are ranked at the bottom, with only De Groenen getting fewer votes. Curiouser is the fact that De Groenen have the rebuilding of the nave of the cathedral as part of their agenda. That would be the nave that collapsed in a storm in 1674.

It should be noted, of course, that this poll is for the municipal elections on Wednesday, 3 March, not for the national elections in June. Still, like midterm elections in the US, I’m sure these municipal elections will be closely watched to perhaps get an idea of the direction people are leaning. For those of you familiar with Geert Wilders and his PVV party, it should be noted that the PVV is only on a couple of ballots in the municipal elections and not on the ballot here in Utrecht. Thank goodness. Unfortunately, the PVV seems to be doing quite well in Almere.