Preferential 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: democracy, feminism, misogyny, municipal councils, municipalities, politics
Three weeks ago there were municipal elections and according to AD on 27 March there is a big discrepancy between the number of voters that showed up and the number of votes counted.
In 235 of the 380 municipalities that participated, the numbers didn’t add up. AD claims that at least 7,387 errors were made. Some of the municipalities decided to have a recount, NRC reported the same day, Wassenaar and Heerlen among them.
Counting both voters and votes makes it harder to commit fraud. The ‘ghost votes’ (spookstemmen) as AD termed the discrepancies led to commotion in parliament. Members for PvdA, D66, GroenLinks and VVD declared themselves to be in favour of the reintroduction of electronic voting which works much less transparent and is therefore much harder to check for fraud.
The fact that a discrepancy between votes and voters was discovered means that manual counting works. The political parties mentioned above said they only wanted to reintroduce electronic counting if it is completely secure. Considering that the job to build these computers must be given to the cheapest supplier according to European laws will pretty much ensure that security will end up at the bottom of the list of requirements though.
(Photo by Photo RNW.org, some rights reserved)
Tags: election fraud, municipalities, voting, voting machines
The municipal elections are around the corner and many news outlets took the opportunity to discuss what they feel are the funniest (Binnenlands Bestuur), clumsiest (AD) or outright silliest (Adformatie) election posters of the current campaign.
The hockey poster for VVD (“we want more artificial grass for our hockey players”) caused one punter to say: “VVD has an eye for the serious problems of the rich”.
The poster for Platform Lokale Partijen will raise an eyebrow with those familiar with the earlier work of satirists Van Kooten and De Bie. The two men on the poster are the spitting image of two early 1980s’ characters of the comedians, the two extreme right-wing politicians (and part-time crooks) Jacobse and Van Es. The duo killed off the characters when a certain part of the electorate started to take the over-the-top policies of their fictional party seriously.
Koen Hawinkels became a minor Facebook sensation with his “do me” campaign—presumably everybody thought “why?” In Dutch “Koen” rhymes with “doen”. The party with the curious name Sociaal Rechts (‘social right-wing’) drew attention for obvious reasons; their poster shows a man spanking somebody else’s bare bottom. If you look closer you will see that the victim’s underwear sports the logos of two other parties, VVD and PvdA, who currently form the national government.
Tags: elections, municipalities, political posters, politics, posters, Van Kooten en De Bie
Bicycle blogger Mark Wagenbuur has enough clout these days that when he calls the city’s department for public works to tell them they forgot to clear a bike path of snow, they go out and clear the bike path.
The city of Den Bosch went even further and invited him over for an in-depth explanation of how clearing the roads works, which led to a fascinating blog post and video (in English):
A city of the size of Den Bosch (140,000 inhabitants) in this day and age works with sophisticated technology to detect and combat slippery road surfaces. Sensors in the road, weather reports from different sources and agreements with other governments and other departments all feed information to the five people who make sure someone is on duty around the clock during the winter months. “The city in turn warns the smaller towns in the vicinity, which cannot afford to have such a sophisticated system themselves.”
(Photo: me. Video: YouTube / Markenlei)
Tags: bike paths, Den Bosch, municipalities, public works, snow, weather
The Dutch national government has put a lot of work into its digital identification system, as DigID is pretty much obligatory for most people these days. For instance, most people cannot file tax returns without one.
However, the government would not be the government if it had not found ways to mess up its own system. The latest howler is reported by WebWereld which writes that a lot of municipalities refer citizens to an ad agency called Digi-D (note the hyphen).
The ad agency existed before the government came up with the name DigiD. The agency claims it has already received sensitive data from 10,000 mistaken citizens, and it has tried to get the government to mend its ways, so far to no avail. Being an ad agency they have now started a campaign to do what the government should have done in the first place, namely point citizens to the right address. The slogan: ‘be careful with your DigiD!’
WebWereld lists several official government documents that refer citizens to the wrong organisation.
Apparently local governments have a checklist that tells them to pay attention to the correct spelling of the name DigiD, among other things.
(Photo by Mystic Mabel, some rights reserved)
Tags: automation, government, identity, identity theft, municipalities
In a glorious display of bullying, barratry and plain old pettiness, the Dutch justice department has decided to take a littering case to the Supreme Court.
It started in October 2009 when a man was fined 120 euro for dropping an empty can on the Neringweg in Lelystad. Rather than paying the fine, the man decided to wait for the court case, which he lost. His lawyer appealed for two reasons, namely that the offence was too small to warrant such a heavy handed response from the state, and that the justice department failed to actually prove the man had broken the law.
The judge quite rightly ruled that it is the justice department’s prerogative to pick its battles, but then awarded the case to the defendant. The local ordinance of Lelystad stipulates that litter needs to be put into a rubbish bin. The man successfully argued that the justice department had provided no proof that there were bins in the street (which there were, by the way).
Spokeswoman for the justice department Kiki Plugge said that the department wants to create clarity for municipalities: should they amend their ordinances? The question seems moot, as the justice department lost because they messed up, not because the ordinance is unclear. The spokeswoman then continued to say that “we do not want people to litter”, which seems an odd thing to say. Of course the justice department gets to pick its own battles, but one would hope that it does not base its choices on its own, undoubtedly narrow minded tastes and interests.
Quite frankly I hope the justice department is taught a lesson on its obligation to perform due diligence, and on suspects’ rights and due process.
Lelystad is a young city of 70,000 souls, built in a place where in the 1950s, a sailor would only be able to see the sea around him. The Dutch Supreme Court doesn’t perform trials. Instead, it only checks to see if the law has been applied correctly given the facts of the case.
(Link: De Pers. Photo by Jos Faber, some rights reserved)
Tags: court cases, Dutch supreme court, Lelystad, littering, municipalities, ordinances
Brenno de Winter needs your money to force the government to become transparent. On June 11, he will organize a benefit in Amsterdam of which the proceeds will go to this war chest.
During his recent attempts to figure out how many local governments are using so-called Free and Open Software, several of these governments have been actively conspiring to thwart De Winter’s efforts. They ‘forgot’ to send some of the required documents, billed him for their time, and 22 municipalities and three provinces outright refused him the documents they are obliged to send, forcing him to start a separate law suit against each one of them.
De Winter expects costs to run up to EUR 7,000, an amount he is unable to cough up himself. If you can spare some cash, you can send some his way to bank account 4241287 c/o Stichting Vrijschrift in Workum. You can also visit the benefit event at the Pick-up Club at the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam, which starts at 5:30 pm on Thursday, June 11, and which features an introduction to WOBing by De Winter, and a debate about transparency between journalists, hackers and civil servants.
I am an adviser to the Stichting Vrijschrift (Scriptum Libre in English) and can tell you they are legit. Their only weakness is their unwillingness to toot their own horn, so let me list some of their feats:
- Instrumental in defeating software patents in the EU
- Acquired financing for GPS devices for the Dutch chapter of Open Street Map
- Working to convince the government of the benefits of open educational materials, such as text books that any teacher can edit and improve.
(More info at Iusmentis (Dutch). About the picture, is it normal that spray bottles like this one have an extra grip for a sixth finger?)
Tags: benefits, freedom of information, law, municipalities, provinces, transparency