March 21: Municipal Elections in Utrecht
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March 21: Municipal Elections in Utrecht
D66 stands for “Opportunities for all Utrechters” – and that includes you! On the 21st of March, Utrecht will host municipal council elections. Through these elections you have the chance to shape many of those important things that you encounter on a daily basis, from housing to healthcare.
D66 believes in democracy: the power of people and their ability to develop as individuals. True to this spirit, our election programme is the result of an elaborate process in which a wide range of people worked together. For example we invited a random selection of 66 of our members, young and old, across gender and background, to comment, critique and consult our programme as we went ahead. We also consulted many experts and Utrechters that are not affiliated with D66.
The result is a wide-ranging, ambitious programme that sets the people of Utrecht at the centre stage. Our programme is based around three key objectives: A sustainable future, affordable housing and the top-notch education. We invite you to read, share and discuss the English summary of our election programme, which you can download from this page.
Did you know that many internationals in Utrecht are eligible to vote? As a foreign citizen – either of another EU member-state or upon having lived in the Netherlands for five years – you have the same right to shape the future of Utrecht as do full Dutch citizens. You won’t even need to register: all eligible voters will automatically have their poll card (stempas) sent straight to their homes by the 7th of March.
For more practical information, we’ve drawn up a handy guide that details everything you need to know as a first-time voter in the Utrecht. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
The Dutch municipal elections of 2018 are planned for 21 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 21 March you will get the chance to cast your vote for the way forward in Utrecht. Vote D66.
Photo: CC BY-SA Christiaan Kuun