Local elections 2018: live blog

Local elections 2018: live blog

The Netherlands goes to the polls today to vote for 335 local councils. Follow events as they unfold on our live blog, and check out what the parties want and more background information in our local election website section. 18.45: Results The polls close at 9pm and most towns and cities expect it to be midnight before they have counted all the votes in their areas. In total, 335 new local councils are being elected. By midnight, officials expect 56% of the total number of votes will have been counted. Around one in four local authority areas expect to declare their results between 10.30 pm and 11.30 pm. The race for the fastest count is between the smallest local authorities – the Wadden Sea islands of Schiermonnikoog and Vlieland, plus Rozendaal in Gelderland. The result of the referendum on new legislation to give sweeping powers to the security services might take until 1.30 am to be finalised, according to news agency ANP. 18.36: PVV complaints So far the public prosecution department has had eight formal complaints about a party political broadcast by the PVV last week. The video, which lasted for 2.5 minutes, consisted of the text ‘Islam is’ followed by words such as terror, murder, gay hatred, slavery and child abuse. The video had no commentary but loud, menacing music. The PVV is contesting the local elections in 30 towns and cities. In 2014, it only fielded candidates in Almere and The Hague. 18.20: Local parties Not everyone is voting for a national party. 18.17: Turnout updates The turnout in Rotterdam is now higher than in 2014, despite the slow start, according to news agency ANP. By 6pm, 32% of the electorate had voted in the port city, compared with 31% four years ago. In The Hague, however, 33.8% had voted in the local elections by 6pm, down from 38% in 2014. In Amsterdam turnout had hit 35%, compared with 27.5% a year ago. 16.25: That other voting paper Voting is also taking place in Amsterdam and Rotterdam for the cities’ district committees which focus on local issues such as waste collection and the provision of green spaces. There are 14 such committees, known as gebiedcommissies in Rotterdam and seven committees - bestuurscommissies - in Amsterdam. In Rotterdam you can vote for the gebiedcommissie at the age of 16. 15.00: Strange places to vote If you are looking for somewhere unusual to vote in Amsterdam, the Parool has a list. Heb je nog niet gestemd? Dit zijn de leukste plekken om te stemmen in Amsterdam https://t.co/Qh7rXHik6Q pic.twitter.com/sZhwwVNBWq — Parool Stadsgids (@stadsgids) March 21, 2018 14.51: Turnouts trickle in According to the Parool newspaper, the turnout in Amsterdam is up on four years ago at about 19% by 2pm. In 2014, turnout by then was just over 11%. In The Hague and Rotterdam, however, turnout is down. The polls close at 9pm. Opkomstpercentage in Amsterdam om 14.00 uur 19 procent. Vier jaar geleden was dat 11,2 procent https://t.co/rFJw2eGomZ pic.twitter.com/xYwjy9k7sl — Het Parool (@parool) March 21, 2018 14.46: Breda bad guys In Breda there is consternation because several candidates for election are said to have criminal pasts. The number 1 on the Stadspartij Breda list has a conviction for armed robbery while another candidate is suspected of involvement in drugs and money laundering. The city authority has now asked accountants to comb the accounts of all the parties standing for election and has said it will pay the cost of certificates of good behaviour (VOG) which all new councilors will have to present, according to broadcaster NOS. 12.04: Rock the vote Four of the five biggest parties in Amsterdam sent their campaign leaders to Monday night's Rock the Boat event - D66, GroenLinks, VVD and PvdA. The SP, whose slogan is Amsterdam for Amsterdammers, send their number 3. In 2014, a similar event had no party leaders at all. Some 89,000 internationals in Amsterdam have the right to vote in the local elections. .@RutgerGW on stage op ons evenement voor internationals in Amsterdam #RockTheVote in @demarktkantine pic.twitter.com/DhgWSRjHeP — GroenLinks Amsterdam (@GroenLinks020) March 19, 2018 11.56: Wilders changes mind PVV leader Geert Wilders has apparently cancelled his visit to Terneuzen to celebrate election night because of political opposition and the fact that 'election night won't have the celebratory character it should have'. 11.26: More unusual locations In Arnhem, people can vote in a trolleybus from 1949 which has been brought back into service to act as a mobile polling station. Mooi! Veel belangstelling voor de stem-Trolley, nu van Malburgen onderweg naar Vredenburg #Arnhem #GR2018 #026kiest #GLD #gemeenteraadsverkiezingen pic.twitter.com/GL5d2gf0UH — Ahmed Marcouch (@ahmedmarcouch) March 21, 2018 In The Hague, you can vote on tram line 11 while in Velsen and several other places, mobile polling stations have been set up in American school buses. In Eindhoven, you can vote in the office of the mayor John Jorritsma while Zuidplas has a drive-in polling station. 10.17: Turnout so far In The Hague, the turnout in the local elections was 6.2% at around 10am, and for the referendum 5.5%. Are those missing 0.6 percentage points foreign voters? Check out our election section on The Hague for the main party positions - in English. De opkomst in Den Haag om 10 uur voor verkiezing van de gemeenteraad: 6,2 %, voor het referendum: 5,5 %. De opkomst is live te volgen via https://t.co/YojDg1n0cr #GR18 #DenHaag pic.twitter.com/hT0itozPTw — Gemeente Den Haag (@GemeenteDenHaag) March 21, 2018 9.30 Wilders in Zeeland Local broadcaster Omroep Zeeland reports that PVV leader Geert Wilders is planning to visit Terneuzen town hall on Wednesday evening but his decision has annoyed the local mayor. Terneuzen is one of the 30 places where the anti-Islam PVV is fielding candidate councillors. Omroep Zeeland says officials are angry at having to take extra security measures, including a bomb check, which means the town hall has to be closed for a time. And the mayor is also concerned that the presence of the PVV leader might detract from the local election results. 7.30: Voting starts Polling booths are open all over the country but in some places people could already vote last night. The Netherlands has a tradition of setting up polling stations in strange places in an effort to tempt people to vote, such as a city farm in The Hague and a popular student cafe in Zwolle. Some councils set up polling stations in railway stations to catch early morning commuters. The polling stations are open from 07.30 hours to 21.00 hours, when the count begins. Ook dit jaar is er lentegeluk in stembureau De Woelige Stal. De lammetjes Zaza, Pluk en Aafje zijn maandag geboren. ,Is dat stemvee?’ Vraagt een bezoeker.#gr18 pic.twitter.com/WGCNscP98x — hanshemmes (@haagsehans) March 21, 2018   More >

Suicide powder coop under investigation

Dead sea eagle found on Lelystad farm was hit by wind turbine The public prosecution department said on Wednesday it has begun a criminal investigation into the Last Will cooperative, which claims to distribute a deadly powder to people who want to commit suicide. The cooperative has also been ordered to halt all activities while the investigation is carried out. It is illegal in the Netherlands to help someone commit suicide and doctors may only help carry out euthanasia under strict protocols. The cooperative hit the headlines last September with the ‘discovery’ of the deadly powder – a widely-available preservative – which is legally available. The group campaigns for the right of people to end their own lives at the time of their choosing. Earlier this month, it emerged that a 19-year-old woman killed herself using the powder bought on the internet but her supplier is not thought to be the cooperative. Health minister Hugo de Jonge said at the time the death was ‘extremely worrying’. The Last Will Cooperative is on the verge of operating irresponsibly and may be committing a criminal offence, he said. In addition to the criminal investigation, the public prosecutor may also ask the courts to ban the organisation entirely, the department statement said.  More >

Afghanistan is safe for refugees: court

Dead sea eagle found on Lelystad farm was hit by wind turbine The Netherlands does not have to give asylum to people from Afghanistan because the country is safe enough to go back to, the highest Dutch administrative court said on Wednesday. The Council of State was ruling on an appeal brought by an Afghan man whose request for asylum had been rejected. ‘The general security situation in Afghanistan is worrying and has worsened in some provinces,’ the court said in its ruling. Nevertheless, that does not mean someone without links to groups involved in the conflict would not be able to return, the court said. The court said it had based its ruling on reports by 16 Dutch and international organisations, including the UN, Amnesty International and refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk. But Amnesty International immediately described the ruling as irresponsible and has rejected the court’s claim that it has judged the country to be safe. Taliban In a report in 2017, Amnesty slammed the Dutch deportation policy and a spokesman told broadcaster NOS on Wednesday the situation has only worsened since then. ‘Large parts of the country are in the hands of the Taliban. Afghanistan is not safe for anyone,’ the spokesman said. ‘The suicide bomb in Kabul today is testament to that.’ According to NOS, the Netherlands is one of the few EU countries to regard Afghanistan as safe. In 2016 the EU struck a deal with Afghanistan, pledging to pay it €1.3bn a year on condition it accepted back its nationals who had failed in their attempts to win refugee status. Wednesday’s case involved a man from Ghazni province and is unconnected to a case brought by an Afghan woman who has lived in the Netherlands since she was a young teenager. She claims to be 'too westernised' to return to Afghanistan and that her life would be in danger because she no longer complies with the standards of female behaviour considered acceptable there.  More >

KPMG: NL retains big role in M&A activity

Dead sea eagle found on Lelystad farm was hit by wind turbine The number of mergers and acquisitions involving Dutch companies rose by 11% to 714 in 2017, according to research by accountancy group KPMG. M&A activity in the Netherlands was higher than in the rest of Europe, where there was a 4.2% rise, KPMG said. The value of Dutch M&A transactions fell to €51bn last year compared to €89bn in 2016. Foreign investors buying Dutch companies accounted for nearly 35% (248) of the transactions. Dutch companies acquired a non-Dutch firm in 27% (194) of the transactions with the rest involving Dutch-only firms. Companies based in the EU accounted for nearly 60% of the transactions in the Netherlands last year, while 20% involved US firms and just 2% companies from China. 'The US is the biggest buyer of Dutch firms, followed by Britain, Belgium, France and Germany,' said KPMG  partner Banny Bosker. Dutch companies also had a clear preference for EU companies when they are seeking a takeover candidate. Of the 194 cross-border takeovers by Dutch companies 65% were in the EU, followed by the US, which accounted for only 15%.  More >

Van Leeuwenhoek microscope mystery solved

Mystery of Van Leeuwenhoek’s microscope lens is partly solved One of the mysteries of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek’s revolutionary microscopes has been revealed after 300 years, broadcaster NOS reported on Wednesday. Van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), a pioneer in the field of microbiology and a supremely gifted craftsman, made lenses that magnified 60 to 260 times, a giant leap compared to the microscopes of his day which did not magnify more than 30 times. The amateur scientist was notoriously jealous of his microscopes and went to some length to shield them from prying eyes. In 1711 he told a group of German nobles his lenses were the result of an advanced way of blowing glass. Some 300 years later modern science tells a different story. The Rijksmuseum Boerhaave owns four microscopes made by Van Leeuwenhoek but has always been reluctant to take them apart. ‘Van Leeuwenhoek secured his lenses between two metal plates which he fastened with nails. To take something so rare and of such historical value apart has never been an option,’ Tiemen Cocquyt, curator at the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in Leiden, told the broadcaster. New technology Thanks to a new technology developed by Delft University of Technology, the microscopes can remain intact. Scientists were able to use a series of 2D images to build up a 3D image of the inside of the instrument showing that the lenses were not blown glass but ground, like the other lenses of Van Leeuwenhoek’s time. Eight Dutch scientists who changed the world ‘It turns out there was no exotic production method,' NOS quotes Cocyuyt as saying. 'Van Leeuwenhoek was simply extremely good at grinding these tiny lenses.' But not all the mystery surrounding the microscopes has been cleared up. ‘How he managed to grind his lenses so expertly is still a matter for conjecture,’ Cocquyt told NOS. ‘He probably used increasingly finer sand but even so his lenses are perfect and as good as is theoretically possible.’ The scientists are still in the process of investigating if the type of glass used by Van Leeuwenhoek is in any way special, NOS writes.  More >