May 8, 2018

Veenendaal wants input for new mayor

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 9:27 am


While the Dutch cannot vote for their mayors because mayors are still appointed, the city of Veenendaal has decided to let residents choose what qualities they want in a mayor, a bit like letting children ‘give their input’ on what they want for dinner and eventually serving them some sort of mash. I understand this is trying to get folks involved, but the best way to let people give their opinion is to let them vote for their mayor, something Veenendaal is not in a position to offer, but trying to alleviate.

Should the new mayor be an ‘enthusiastic renewer’ or more of a ‘stable factor’? Should they be ‘visibly active’ or more ‘involved in the background’? Folks of Veenendaal, tell them what you want in a survey. And you can continue to ‘give your opinion’ until May 16. Piet Zoon is currently acting mayor of Veenendaal, after Wouter Kolff left in September 2017.

Last month, the town of Stadskanaal appointed a mayor for all of 15 minutes, as they could not appoint new councillors without one, which the law has no provision to deal with.

(Link:, Photo of deceased former mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van de Laan)

Tags: , , ,

April 8, 2018

‘We want more women in municipal councils’, say Dutch voters, but political parties disagree

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:40 pm

billboard-branko-collinPreferential voting in last month’s municipal elections in the Netherlands has caused a drastic increase of female representatives, newspaper Trouw reported two weeks ago.

The campaign Stem op een Vrouw (vote for a woman) encouraged citizens to vote tactically by voting for a woman the polls suggested would just miss out on being elected. The result was an increase of 20% women in the Dutch municipal councils.

Municipal councils in the Netherlands are elected once every four years. A council sets the policy for its municipality and supervises the municipality’s executive board. A party receives its portion of the available seats based on the percentage of votes they win. The council seats are distributed among the candidates that make up the top of the party list, but if a lower ranked candidate gets a lot of votes, they bump the lowest candidate of the primary selection from her or, as the case may be, his seat.

In the previous four years, a record-breaking 28% of council members were women, but this year the new record was set at 34%. Citizens gave women a preferential vote across all party lines, although the effect was most noticeable for candidates of D66 (Democrats), Groen Links (Greens) and SP (Socialists).

Most resistant to the idea of female council members turned out to be the political parties and the candidates themselves. In 334 of the 335 municipalities, men dominated the party list, NOS reported in March. In the one town where there was an equal amount of male and female candidates, Heemstede, the male party leaders still outnumbered the female party leaders 2:1.

Both PvdA (Labour) and SP had their candidates sign a waiver, stating they would give up their seat if they got in on preferential votes. Several female Socialists gave up their council seats. The waiver has no legal force according to John Bijl of the Perikles institute: “You swear loyalty to the law and the constitution, not to your political party.” In Woerden, local party Inwonersbelangen (Citizens’ Interests) threw Lia Arentshorst out of the party after she refused to give up her seat.

The campaign Vote for a Woman was founded by Devika Partiman after a campaign with the same name from the 1990s in Surinam. The campaign also ran during the previous parliamentary elections, where the effect was more subdued, presumably due to the fact that the representation of women in parliament has historically been greater already.

Tags: , , , , ,

May 25, 2013

March against Monsanto draws thousands in the Netherlands alone

Filed under: Nature by Branko Collin @ 7:33 pm

Today dozens of demonstrations were held against the actions and influence of Monsanto, an American company that produces genetically modified seeds.

Protesters expressed fear that genetically modified organisms cause harm to the health of human beings and animals, and disturb important natural processes.

In the Netherlands five of these Marches against Monsanto were organized, in Amsterdam, Wageningen, The Hague, Bergschenhoek and Leiden. According to Volkskrant, 1000 protestors showed up in Amsterdam and 1200 in Wageningen. Monsanto has offices in Wageningen, the location of an agricultural university, and Bergschenhoek.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

January 17, 2010

Political feed aggregator

Filed under: Online by Branko Collin @ 3:06 pm brings together all tweets and blog posts of Dutch politicians.

The site is an initiative of Geen Commentaar, the blog that earlier created a coalition checker and a parliamentary search engine. Although the default mode delivers an inane cacophony of local and national news, blog posts and tweets, the Advanced Search function lets you narrow the stream of opinions down to only what you need.

Tags: , ,

May 5, 2009

Illegal impounding of laptops at airports

Filed under: General,Technology by Branko Collin @ 9:12 am

Patent lawyer Arnout Engelfriet says (Dutch) that searches of mobile phones and laptops at the airports by the marechaussee, a form of military police, may be illegal. He refers to the fact that the powers of the marechaussee are the same as those of the regular police, and regular police may only perform searches when they have good reason to suspect a specific wrongdoing. The marechaussee’s actions are part of a test started last year in the hope to lessen the smuggling of child pornography.

According to tech news site (Dutch), the justice department wanted to keep the test a secret because of expected “legal complications.” Journalist Brenno de Winter discovered that although 900 mobile phones, 62 hard disks and sundry other digital devices were searched, none of the victims were prosecuted on the basis of these searches.

The marechaussee was installed in 1814 by later king Willem I as a successor to Napoleon’s reviled gendarmerie. Its tasks have included policing of citizens from the word go. When the civil police reorganized in 1988, guard and police duties at national airport Schiphol got assigned to the marechaussee. The organization took over guard duties for the royal familie in 1908, a job hitherto performed by the palace’s gardening staff.

(Photo: colargol87, some rights reserved.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

April 19, 2009

Citizen’s Initiative neutered by parliament

Filed under: General,Online by Branko Collin @ 11:46 am

Earlier this year the first digital citizen’s initiative was organized to force parliament to talk about the right of citizens to light fireworks at New Year (the people behind the initiative want that right taken away). Recently however the committee that needs to verify whether citizen’s initiatives are legit, led by former Minister of the Interior Johan Remkes, has shot down the fireworks initiative with the most spurious arguments, reports Geen Commentaar (Dutch):

He states that minister Ter Horst indicated at a committee meeting on January 29, 2008, that she did not wish to outlaw consumer fireworks. According to Remkes, “parliament has implicitly endorsed this point of view by not tabling any motions from which the opposite could be inferred.”

And with that kind of argument he basically killed every future citizen’s initiative.

On a totally unrelated matter, yesterday I heard three politicians on the radio whine, again, that citizens are not interested in politics and that they seem think all politicians are crooks. Hm…

Tags: , , , ,

January 16, 2009

First digital Citizen’s Initiative — citizens say no to fun

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:43 am

“You stupid woman, digital signatures don’t count,” we said less than a year ago, but a new law has changed that rule. If you want to tell parliament to put certain topics on the agenda, digital signatures are good enough to support your Citizen’s Initiative. Last year for instance, a group of women wanted parliament to debate on binge drinking youth. That bid failed, because the autographs had been digitally collected. The law has now been changed, and as of 1 January 2009 digital signatures do count.

So, with this great democratic leap forward, what do citizens elect to do with their new found power and responsibility? Why, declare their support for the War on Fun of course! The first digital Citizen’s Initiative is here, and it’s about fireworks. The citizens, led by Green Party city council member and sour puss David Rietveld, want it outlawed. To be precise, they demand that only professionals are allowed to light fireworks on New Year’s Eve, an activity often shared between dads and their sons.

As is typical for this time, something that is clearly wrong and illegal is taken and glued to something that is fun, yet irritating to some. In this case, the New Year’s celebrations are a signal to a very few troublemakers to start burning cars and houses. And so the David Rietvelds of this world figure that it is clearly the fireworks that are at fault, not the troublemakers—who in my opionion won’t be hindered by fireworks-banning legislation in the first place, and if they did would just find other ways to be dorks.

Photo by Mark Crossfield, some rights reserved.

Tags: , , , , , ,