Preprinted election billboards are on the rise

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A new phenomenon is emerging in the Dutch electoral landscape, the preprinted election billboard.

Traditionally municipalities provide blank billboards for campaigners to glue their posters to, but amongst others The Hague, Soest, Capelle aan den IJssel, Oosterhout and parts of Amsterdam have chosen to go with preprinted boards this year for the September parliamentary elections.

According to Trouw, spokespersons for the various municipalities quote as reasons “moving with the times”, the desire to have “neater” looking billboards, and the desire to stop parties pasting posters on top of other parties’ posters.

I saw the one shown here near my house (click the photo for a larger version), and I must say, it does feel a bit like curtailing political speech. By printing the posters at the same size and in a neat grid, the individual posters become practically invisible.

I can fully understand the Socialist Party’s protests against this type of billboard. Theirs is the party of no political power whatsoever on the national level, but a very broad base. Campaign posters have traditionally been their medium, where other parties sometimes simply could not be bothered.

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