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.

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.

Party Posters

I figure this photo goes well with the post I made yesterday about how a few politicians were saying that it’s too cold to campaign. Look! There’s snow on the ground! Doesn’t it just look cold and miserable? 😉

This plywood billboard went up a week or so ago at the corner of Lucasbolwerk and Nobelstraat. It’s right there in front of the Stadsschouwburg (city theater) and one of the bus stops. A good a place as any for the display of political posters. It’s certainly neater than all the millions of individual campaign posters stuck all over the place as they are in the US.

As I try to get a better understanding of Dutch politics, I find myself referring back to this listing and general description of the various Dutch political parties currently operating. Amusingly, or perhaps intentionally, the more right-wing parties (CDA, VVD) are on the right hand side of the billboard, while the more left-wing parties (GroenLinks, D66, PvdA) are on the left-hand side.

If I understand correctly, non-Dutch nationals can vote in regional and municipal elections once they’ve lived here for five years. Have any of you who have been here long enough, but not become Dutch citizens, voted?