Among the 3 scheduled elections in the Netherlands for 2019, two of them are happening this upcoming Wednesday, 20th of March 2019. These are the Provincial elections and the Water Board elections. Are you a EU citizen or a non-EU citizen who’s been living in the Netherlands uninterrupted for at least 5 years and is registered with the municipality?
Then you are definitely eligible to vote and have by now received your invitation: a stempas. Although most of us acknowledge the importance of voting (I hope), it can be tough if you do not understand the language and do not know how the system works. So, here’s a little guide to get you started.
What are we voting for?
First of all, there are 2 elections taking place;
1. Provincial elections (only open for Dutch nationals over 18 years of age)
They take place once every four years and the voters elect the members of the Provincial States in the twelve provinces of the Netherlands (Drenthe, Frevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland and Zuid-Holland)
2. Water board elections
These elections also take place every four years. The Dutch Water Boards are the oldest democratic institution in the Netherlands. In total, 21 Water Boards work to manage water barriers, waterways, water level and quality, dikes and sewage. One can only vote for the Water Board responsible for the region you live in (Zuid-Holland for everyone living in Rotterdam).
What is a Water Board?
Water boards, or waterschappen, are responsible for managing water levels, maintenance and water levels. It might sound quite funny that the Dutchies have elections for managing their water, but in a country half of the land stands below sea level, maintaining water level is a big deal. There are 21 water boards which correspond to the 12 provinces of the country. For the most part, the elections are held because the voters are concerned with the maintaining water safety. However, there are also some political concerns in play, which tend to centre on what’s best for agriculture versus what’s best for the wildlife and the environment.
Find out where you stand on water on the waterschappen website(in Dutch only).
How does it work?
If you are eligible to vote you should have received by now the so called stempas (voting card). To vote, all you have to do is go to your local polling station, which should be indicated on your voting card under the name “Stemlokaal bij u in de buurt”. When you go to vote, make sure to not forget your ID and of course your stempas. After you have been approved, you’ll be given your ballot sheet and a red pencil with which you must fill in your choice by colouring the box next to your preferred candidate.
Elections are taking place Wednesday, 20th of March from 7: 30 until 21:00, so do not worry if you oversleep.
Now go on tick your box wisely!