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As the main hub of the most competitive region in Europe, Utrecht truly is a wonderful city. It offers good education, a strong economy, many cultural events and a municipality that enables, rather than patronises its inhabitants. Nonetheless, Utrecht is not a finished product. Together with you, D66 is committed to providing more work, having fewer rules and providing better education in Utrecht.
Unemployment is a major issue. People in Utrecht want a decent job. Therefore D66 aims to strengthen the economy for entrepreneurs, whether it be big multinationals or small freelance initiatives. Small companies and freelancers deserve a fair chance in public tenders. In order to make Utrecht attractive to foreign companies, D66 aims to create an attractive climate for companies, including an expat centre.
You live here, you work here, you study here. In large part, you do not need the government to interfere or even to oppose that. You like to live life your way. So do we. For example, if you want to extend your house, the municipality should be there to facilitate you, not get in your way. In addition, we do not believe in closing times. Entrepreneurs in the catering industry are very well able to determine their opening hours in consultation with the people living nearby. Also, D66 continues to fight for the legalisation of soft drugs. It is the only realistic solution to issues of both security and public health.
In order to develop your talents, good education is necessary. It is key to success and personal strength. As a result of the efforts of D66, the quality of education in Utrecht has improved rapidly over the last four years. D66 was assigned the education portfolio in 2010. Since then, 34 new schools have been opened. Over the next 4 years, D66 wants to ensure that all children in Utrecht are educated in small classes and leave school with a diploma. All schools need to be healthy and safe and all schools deserve a concierge. The International School needs to be expanded.
The Dutch municipal elections of 2014 are planned for 19 March. This election will determine the composition of the municipal councils in The Netherlands for the next four years. One does not need Dutch nationality in order to be able to vote in these elections.
In Utrecht, the municipal council is made up of 45 members, who represent its population. Its main role is laying down the guidelines for policy and exercising control over its execution by the executive board of the municipality. This executive consists of the mayor and executive board members, or wethouders. The mayor is an appointed governmental position. After every municipal election, members of the city council elect the wethouders to the executive. The wethouders are assigned portfolios within the municipal government and, in this capacity, prepare, coordinate, and plan policy and legislation for the council as a whole. They are also charged with the day-to-day government of the municipality and the implementation of legislation. The wethouders report to the municipal council on all aspects of what is happening within their portfolios.
One does not need Dutch nationality in order to be able to vote in the municipal elections. Citizens of other member states of the European Union who reside in the Netherlands have the right to vote and to stand for election, subject to the same conditions as Dutch citizens. Citizens from countries other than the European Union must have resided legally in the Netherlands for five years to vote or stand for election. You can check here if you are eligible to vote.
You need a voting pass to be able to vote. People eligible to vote will have received this at the address where they are registered. The voting pass allows you to vote at any polling station in Utrecht, although it gives the address of the polling station closest to your home. You can decide yourself which polling station you want to use. There are 170 polling stations in Utrecht. In order to cast your vote, you need to bring your voting pass and a proof of identity. If you are unable to cast your vote yourself, you can authorise someone else to do it on your behalf.
D66 (Democrats 1966) is a progressive liberal party and recognises its roots in the free-spirited leftist liberal party Vrijzinnig Democratische Bond (1901-1946). Hans van Mierlo, co-founder of D66, clearly formulated the party’s position in the political spectrum: “Both liberalism and socialism together have been sources of inspiration for our party. This is justified by the fact that during their historic developments, both movements have taken responsibility for a part of the whole truth, and, consequently have turned that part into the whole truth. As a result, things that were complementary have become opposites, have become caricatures of themselves: Liberty against equality, individual against community, self-regulation against government, individuality against solidarity.” The ideas of D66 give testimony to the idea that true liberalism is social, because it strives for the greatest possible future and self-determination for all individuals.
D66 has for a long time disliked the use of labels to frame the party’s identity. Since its establishment there have been discussions about calling the party ‘progressive liberal’ or ‘freethinking democrat’. As of 1999 the party calls itself social-liberal. At present, D66 is characterised as a progressive and social-liberal party. Five guiding principles are testimony to that vision:
We believe in the power of people and their ability to develop as individuals. This is why we feel optimistic about the future. People have the creative ability to keep coming up with new solutions. We want a government that supports people’s intrinsic creativity and resourcefulness. Individual people are the key to change and we want a government that acknowledges this fact. What people can do for themselves and for others is far more important and effective than anything a government might legislate.
Societies are becoming interdependent in an ever increasing number of ways. We welcome the world and exclude no-one. In everything we do, we consider the effects our actions may have on others in the world. We recognise that Europe and the Netherlands are increasingly becoming one. International cooperation and economic progress are the keys to a world with fewer wars and conflicts. Our decisions must be pragmatic, level-headed and based on facts.
People differ from one another, yet at the same time they are all equal. Each individual is unique and we want a government that provides the freedom for those differences to flourish. We seek economic independence for as many people as possible and we believe in rewarding those who excel. We want a dynamic, open society in which everyone has the freedom to make their own decisions and to develop as they wish. We consider it a matter of course that wealth should be shared. We want to see as many people as possible participating socially and economically because that is the road to increased prosperity for everyone. We acknowledge that, for we all share responsibility for those in our society in less fortunate social and economic circumstances.
We want to embrace the world with respect and compassion. That respect and compassion applies both to the people around us and our environment. The earth is neither our personal property, nor an expendable consumer good. We wish to end the depletion and pollution of our environment. We feel the discussion on the environment should shift the burden of proof from having to find arguments in defence of preservation to arguments in defence of exploitation.
The fundamental values of our society are freedom and equality for everyone, regardless of belief, religion, sexual orientation, political views or ethnicity. Physical safety, non-violent solutions to conflicts of interest and the respectful exercise of freedom of expression as well as good governance and rule of law, form our core values. These values are universal and paramount. We defend civil rights, both at home and elsewhere.
Should you have any further questions about the municipal elections or about D66, whether it is about our guiding principles or specific positions, please do not hesitate to contact us. All of our staff and councillors speak English and are happy to help you with any questions you might have.
On 19 March you will get the chance to cast your vote for the way forward in Utrecht. Vote D66.
Photo: CC BY-SA Christiaan Kuun