English info provided on elections
In two weeks, on 21 November, the inhabitants of Groningen, Haren, and Ten Boer will vote on who they want to see on their municipal council. An increasing number of these inhabitants aren’t from the Netherlands. And while they might not realise it they, too, are eligible to vote.
‘It’s very easy when it comes to local elections’, says Roelf Reinders with the registry. ‘You have to be registered at the municipality before 8 October and come from an EU country.’
Voting rights are nice, but how can internationals figure out how the Dutch system works? To help them, the municipality has included all the pertinent information in English. For the first time ever.
‘We’ve noticed an increasing number of international people living in Groningen’, Reinders explains. The idea to include the information in two languages was proposed by the GroenLinks faction in the municipal council, and the mayor and aldermen liked it. ‘We had plenty of time to take care of it all.’
The letter accompanying the polling card included an English translation. ‘Next week everyone who’s eligible to vote for the first time will receive a second letter with technical information about the elections. We’re providing an English translation of that as well. And all the election information on our website is available in English as well.’
Reinders hopes this will encourage internationals to vote. ‘They often feel like they’re not really part of things. I studied in Dublin for a while and I never got involved in local politics there.’
But internationals should get involved in local politics, because the municipal council also decides on issues that are important to them. Even if they’re only staying for a little while. ‘Take the housing crisis, for example. Local politicians are largely responsible for making decisions on that.’