From Ghetto to Parliament, directed by Dutchman Thimaud de Driesen which premiered in March of this year, is a documentary film about Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, a successful reggae artist and Ugandan freedom fighter.
Wine worked his way up from the ghetto to become an elected representative of parliament, where his outspokenness makes him stand out and gets him into trouble, as in he is regularly arrested in an attempt to stop him from protesting. In a country where corruption, violence and intimidation are rife, the journey of Bobi Wine had been receiving international media coverage as he posts uplifting messages on social media aimed at his supporters.
As De Driesen says in this trailer, the story is not just about Bobi Wine, it’s the story of Uganda. Have a look at the trailer:
(Link: Movies That Matter; photo: Enca)
Tags: politics, Uganda
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
Dries van Agt, 86, served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from late 1977 until late 1982. Of all his achievements, the one that stands out for many is the introduction of ‘turning a blind eye’ (in Dutch, ‘gedoogbeleid’) to the use of marijuana and hash 42 years ago as of January 17, 2017, which was a world’s first.
Van Agt was Justice Minister before he was PM, and together with Irene Vorrink the Minister of Health at the time, they are the reason why the world assumes pot is legal in the Netherlands when it fact, it is absolutely not. They are also the reason why the Dutch have been making a distinction between soft drugs and hard drugs since 1976.
In November 2009 Van Agt received the Cannabis Culture Award of the Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam, but this week he was awarded the Koos Zwart Award in Tilburg, an annual award given to people who have been instrumental in moving towards legalisation and normalisation of cannabis in the Netherlands. The award is named after hash activist Koos Zwart who died in 2014 and who happens to be Irene Vorrink’s son. The former premier held a speech in 2016 at the Cannabis Liberation Day in Amsterdam to plead for the legalisation of marijuana.
And on January 17, Van Agt smoked his first ever joint (pic).
Tags: cannabis, Dries van Agt, marijuana, politics, weed
The iconic Canta mobility vehicle is no longer being produced, Volkskrant reports.
Last week the last Canta ever rolled off the conveyor belt at the Waaijenberg factory in Veenendaal. The manufacturer told the newspaper they are having troubles sourcing parts. Especially the moulds are worn out. Waaijenberg will use the few parts they still have for repairs.
Cantas have been coming under fire recently, with the city of Amsterdam wanting to ban them from the pavement. In a bizarre twist and for reasons unknown, the city even tried to take away Cantas from their users, for whom the microcar often means the difference between being able to live a full life and being condemned to wasting away at home.
Cantas are allowed to drive on the pavement, the bike path and the main road. They are made to measure for their drivers. A few are privately owned (and end up on the market), but most are property of the government. They often come in Ferrari racing red, although other colours are possible. In total 4,645 were produced in the past 22 years.
Waaijenberg expect to present a successor later this year.
See also: Canta, the little can-do car
Photo of a Canta on a bike path by Tjerk Zweers, some rights reserved.
Tags: Canta, disability, mobility, politics, Waaijenberg
Since we’ll probably have to explain this at Christmas parties, shock blog ‘Geenstijl’, who brought us the crowdsourcing of Dutch European Parliament vote count and blocking the ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement being ignored by the Dutch government for 238 days so far, has decided to found a political party.
GeenPeil – it rhymes with Geenstijl and refers to polling – promises to set up an Internet app to hold ‘microreferendums” for all bills that pass through parliament. “All rank-and-file members of the party will be able to influence how its MPs vote on law proposals, always voting the way of the outcome of the microreferendums.
Like them or not, the fact that Prime Minister Mark Rutte has ignored the results of the democratic referendum prompted by this lot on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and possibly passing on the problem to the next government after the 15 March 2017 elections, is really embarrassing and proves that democracy isn’t being respected at all.
GeenPeil, has its own issues. Last month, Dutch media reported that the European Parliament has demanded they pay back €14,500 in subsidies. GeenPeil had used the money, which came from the Institute for Direct Democracy in Europe, a body created by Ukip, a British eurosceptic party, to pay for a newspaper advertisement calling on readers to support the Ukrainian referendum initiative for a referendum although the grant was not allowed to be used for national campaigning.
Although the referendum was legally non-binding, senior politicians had promised they would take the result into consideration and it’s such a thorny subject that the issue is on the agenda of this month’s EU summit in Brussels.
(Link: euobserver.com, Photo by Photo RNW.org, some rights reserved)
Tags: EU, government, politics, Ukraine, voting
Two weeks ago the city of Deventer officially got a new city hall.
One of its prominent features is an artwork by Loes ten Anscher called Raamwerk Deventer which consists of the blown-up metal fingerprints of 2,264 citizens that cover windows both on outside and inside walls.
An early design for a new city hall had a number of difficulties to overcome. It was protested ten years ago for being obtrusive and the brouhaha even brought down two successive city governments. The architects of that design, Neutelings Riedijk from Rotterdam, were asked to return to their drawing boards, which they did. They came up with something better, something that impressed NRC.next: “Design driven by political noise usually ends up being a tepid compromise or an outright failure […]. But the City Hall Quarters, as the collection of old and new buildings is called, has become an exemplary complex in both an architectural and an urban design sense. The city hall is an example of how well a new building can function in an old city centre.”
Loes ten Anscher hopes that by using their fingerprints, the citizens will come to feel that the new building also belongs to them.
A more cynical person, like me, might see the usage of thousands of fingerprints more like a celebration of the utter disdain with which Dutch governments sometimes treat their citizens’ right to privacy. But hey, it looks really pretty, right?
(Photo: Deventer Stadhuiskwartier)
Tags: city hall, Deventer, fingerprints, Loes ten Anscher, Neutelings Riedijk, politics, urban design
In 2013 a court told Mustafa Karasahin to limit his unrelenting letter writing to Dordrecht city hall to 10 letters a month, which he didn’t do. After fining and even detaining him twice, the message ironically didn’t get through and now he’s finally being thrown in jail for two years with eight months probation for writing harassing letters.
Karasahin got into it with the city for illegally renting out rooms and was marked as a slum lord, not winning him any sympathy once he finally went bankrupt. And since he’s broke, he won’t have to pay any compensation for damages. According to the court, his flow of letters between 2013 and 2015 cost the city a whopping 1.24 million euro, not counting another estimated 250,000 to 300,000 euro for 2016.
Enjoy your new small room, dude, and don’t write.
Tags: Dordrecht, jail, letter writing, politics
Bram Heijstek has had a rough year. The council member of the municipality of Aalsmeer has been on the receiving end of several death threats that were allegedly signed by a colourful coalition of political opponents, reporters and famous locals. About the only person who did not threaten Heijstek was Heijstek himself… wait, let’s rewind the tape a bit. According to The Post Online, Heijstek was arrested two weeks ago on suspicion of identity theft and stalking after he had faked numerous threats to his person.
Two weeks before his arrest, RTV-NH had asked Heijstek about the possibility of having faked the death threats against him. Heijstek told the broadcaster, “I’ve been physically attacked three times this year. That seems a difficult thing to do to yourself. And you know, these threats are easy to trace.”
He added, “If only the police worked a little harder,” which they then did.
The police have released Heijstek, but they expect that the politician will be prosecuted, considering the amount of victims involved.
Aalsmeer is a town just south of Amsterdam and is mostly known for its flower auction, which takes place in the largest building of the world, measured by surface area.
Tags: criminals, politicians, politics