Local elections 2018: Eindhoven has lots of information in English

Denk aims high as it reveals candidates for Rotterdam council

Earlier this week, Eindhoven local broadcaster Omroep Brabant ran a story about 'expats being completely forgotten in the local elections', but according to DutchNews.nl research at least seven of the city's main parties have published English summaries of their manifestos, including the populist Leefbaar Eindhoven. Eindhoven's expat center even organised a meeting earlier this month where internationals could find out more about the elections and what the parties have to offer. The city's local news service Eindhoven News is also following the elections closely. Nevertheless the city's mayor John Jorritsma has pledged to do more to involve the city's internationals - over 18,000 have the right to vote on March 21 - in Eindhoven's political life. The changes will first be felt next year, when the European and provincial government elections take place as well as elections for the water boards. Airport In terms of the big issues this year, on Friday the left-leaning city council said it wanted to see a local tax on flights from Eindhoven's booming airport. The cash raised would be used to improve the quality of life in the region, such as by insulating homes, according to a report in the Volkskrant. A special 'Eindhoven Night Debate' earlier this week focused attention on efforts to improve the city's nightlife. Like many of the Netherlands' student towns, opening hours, permits and red tape are top of the issue list for some sections of society and most of the parties seem to agree that action is needed. The VVD and D66 want fewer rules to govern nightlife while Denk wants them to be abolished altogether, according to a report in the Eindhovens Dagblad. Housing too is a key issue. Eindhoven also has the dubious honour of being included in a competition to find the worst local election slogans. 'Relax, kies Toine en betaal minder Tax!' (relax, vote for Toine and pay less tax), the work of Toine Aarts, a hopeful for local party Forum040, is one of the 10 slogans nominated for the top prize. Current council coalition:  PvdA, D66, SP, GroenLinks Current council make-up:  PvdA (8), D66 (7),  VVD (6), SP (5), OuderenAppèl (5), CDA (4), GroenLinks (4), Leefbaar Eindhoven (2), Brede Beweging LinksOm (2), Lijst Pim Fortuyn (1), CU (1) Total number of voters: 181,339 Number of international voters: 18,353 or 10% - equivalent to 4.5 seats on the city council 2018 local election information in English Eindhoven, key issues: housing, integration and jobs CDA manifesto summary PvdA manifesto summary GroenLinks manifesto summary D66 manifesto summary SP manifesto summary (pdf) VVD manifesto summary Leefbaar Eindhoven (pdf)  More >

D66 has narrow lead in The Hague: poll

Denk aims high as it reveals candidates for Rotterdam council A new poll suggests D66 will emerge as the biggest party on a highly-fragmented city council in The Hague after the March 21 vote. The I&O research gives the Liberal Democrats seven seats on the 45-seat city council and puts the populists of Groep de Mos and the left-wing greens of GroenLinks both at six. The VVD is on target to win six and the anti-Islam PVV, four. That is down three on the seven seats the party took in 2014. Earlier polls show the environment is the main priority for voters, followed by healthcare and housing. D66, GroenLinks and PvdA want to ban vans and older cars from the city centre’s environmental protection zone, which currently applies to lorries, while the VVD and CDA are opposed. GroenLinks and D66 have also called for the council to invest in offshore wind farms. Most parties, with the exception of the PVV, say newbuild housing needs to be greener and more energy efficient. The Hague election information  More >

Local elections 2018: a Rotterdam battle

Denk aims high as it reveals candidates for Rotterdam council As election dramas go, the contest in Rotterdam has been an energetic mix of soap opera, pantomime and farce. The farce came early in the contest when Geert Wilders was forced to sack the lead candidate for his PVV party, Geza Hegedüs, after one day. The PVV's campaign began inauspiciously when two MPs from the multicultural party Denk turned up to heckle the official launch, which took place against the backdrop of a mosque. And it got worse for Wilders when an anti-fascist campaign group unmasked Hegedüs as a supporter of extreme-right student fraternity Erkenbrand. The PVV is hoping to take seats from Leefbaar Rotterdam, the party founded by Wilders's idol Pim Fortuyn, which has responded by hardening its stance on migrants. Among its policies is a new law to protect the 'native Dutch' character of high streets by allowing the council to limit the number of kebab shops, halal butchers and shisha lounges. Coalition Leefbaar has governed the city for the last four years in a coalition with progressive liberals D66 and the Christian Democrats. But a repeat of that combination has been thrown into doubt by Leefbaar's electoral pact with Thierry Baudet's Forum for Democracy (FvD). Baudet has been involved in a war of words with D66 leader Alexander Pechtold and interior minister Kajsa Ollongren since the pair condemned his party's stance on racial issues, and D66 have made it a condition of any future power-sharing deal that Leefbaar disown Baudet's comments. Leefbaar's Robert Simons has dismissed the demand as 'childish'. Left-wing The internecine struggle on the right should have handed the initiative to the city's left-wing parties, had they not blundered into a trap of their own devising last week. The Socialists, GroenLinks and Labour announced a joint programme called the Links Verbond, along with Nida, one of Rotterdam's two Islamic factions, to promote a 'social, sustainable and inclusive Rotterdam'. But when a tweet from Nida surfaced which likened Israel's intervention in Gaza in 2014 to the actions of Islamic State, GroenLinks and Labour pulled out of the agreement after Nida refused to withdraw the remark. 'As far as I am concerned there is no place for Nida in our alliance,’ said GroenLinks leader Judith Bokhove. The polls suggest Leefbaar will remain the largest party, but with its seats cut from 13 to around 9. A cluster of parties including GroenLinks, the SP, D66 and the VVD are vying for second place with five or six of the 45 seats, while the PVV are expected to take three or four. Nida had hoped that the left-wing pact would protect it from a challenge from Denk. With such a wide field and acrimonious campaign, whichever party emerges on top of the pile will have its work cut out to build a working coalition. In Rotterdam voters can also chose the members of the 14 district committees. Current council coalition: Leefbaar Rotterdam, D66, CDA Current council make-up: Leefbaar Rotterdam (13), PvdA (8), D66 (5), SP (5), VVD (3), CDA (3), Nida Rotterdam (2), GroenLinks (2), CU/SGP (1), PvdD (1) plus two splinter parties Total number of voters:  501,230 Number of international voters: 46,087 or 9.2% - four seats on the city council 2018 local election information in English Rotterdam key questions: housing, integration and jobs Voting aids Help with deciding who to vote for (Dutch only)  More >

Local elections 2018: Utrecht

Denk aims high as it reveals candidates for Rotterdam council With its young, affluent, multicultural population, it's no surprise that the contest in Utrecht looks set to be a straight fight for supremacy between D66 and GroenLinks. The city has become a testing ground for sustainable and progressive urban development, with mixed results. It won praise for its scheme to ban older diesel cars from the city centres and has flirted for several years with the idea of a guaranteed minimum income, but other innovations have proved less popular. Householders find the new bin collection system confusing and the decision to build a biomass plant to heat the city has not gone down well with GroenLinks's more 'deep green' supporters. Transport and accessibility are high on the agenda again this time around. The long-running construction work around the central railway station has been a nuisance to cyclists and partly explains why Utrecht ranked only 84th in a recent survey of bike-friendly towns and cities. The new tramline to the Uithof is running behind, at a cost of tens of millions of euros, and mechanical problems have blighted the new fleet of electric buses. Public transport There is consensus about the need to encourage more citizens to leave the car at home and use public transport, but disagreement about how to achieve it. The two largest parties want to turn the inner ring road into a 'city boulevard', but the plan is strongly opposed by the centre-right factions. The shortage of affordable housing for lower and middle incomes is another issue on which all the parties agree on the problem, but differ widely on the solution. D66 and GroenLinks are expected to continue in government, but the more interesting question is which minor parties will join the coalition. The current administration is propped up by the VVD and the Socialist Party, with the Christian Democrats and Labour waiting in the wings. The 45 seats are shared between 10 parties and that number will swell if, as expected, Geert Wilders's PVV and Denk win seats. The PVV's top candidate, Henk van Deún, stirred up an early election controversy when he told a radio interviewer he wanted to see a city mosque burn down – figuratively speaking, he later claimed. Current council coalition:  D66, GroenLinks, VVD, SP Current council make-up: D66 (13), GroenLinks (9), VVD (5), PvdA (5), SP (4), CDA (3), Stadsbelang Utrecht (2), CU (2), Student & Starter (1), PvdD (1 Total number of voters: 269,156 Number of international voters: 18,764 or 7% - three seats on the city council 2018 local election information in English Utrecht key issues: housing, integration and jobs VVD manifesto summary D66 manifesto summary Partij voor de Dieren, fundamental values PvdA manifesto in English Events March 15, City hall information session for internationals  More >

Local elections 2018: Leiden

Denk aims high as it reveals candidates for Rotterdam council Does Leiden need more nightlife venues? Will it ever get that park over by the Lichtfabriek? And will members of its city council ever stop bickering over the colour of parasols on the terraces? These are just a few of the issues occupying the minds of politicians and voters down in the ‘Sleutelstad’ ahead of this year’s local elections. Leiden currently has 39 city councillors from nine political parties. It’s mostly dominated by members of national ones like D66, which is the most represented with 12 seats. However, the more homegrown Leefbaar Leiden (Livable Leiden) currently holds two. Irritations At least one Leiden cafe owner is hoping that voters will give D66 the boot. In an off-the-record conversation with DutchNews.nl, he confessed years of frustration with members of the party that won’t stop hounding him over contradictory regulations. Other Leiden business owners have expressed similar irritation over pedantic requirements to use certain types of flower boxes and ensure that their parasols are all the same colour and don’t feature corporate logos. There’s also the city’s weekly farmer’s market, which completely dominates the narrow commercial streets along the Nieuwe Rijn in the centre of the city, much to the chagrin of nearby shops and cafes that must constantly yield to the stalls and their customers every Saturday. Elsewhere, residents near De Valk, the historic windmill that serves as Leiden’s centrepiece, are fretting that the city will pave the way for more nightclubs and bars in their neighbourhood (which could increase noise complaints tenfold). Plans to decommission the 'Lichtfabriek’, a gas-powered electrical station currently occupying valuable real estate, and convert the property into a park and multi-use facilities, also keeps getting delayed. As with other Dutch university towns, there’s the usual complaints about noisy students, the tight housing market, and too little parking. Traffic, especially scooters and delivery trucks, often cause accidents and gridlock on Leiden’s smaller streets that date back centuries. Meanwhile, the area in front of Leiden Central station will be swamped with construction for at least the next few years, which has frustrated daily train commuters. Bike lanes So how to solve these problems? D66 wants to focus on improving housing options for lower income residents and students while improving overall livability with better bike lanes and gradually phasing out natural gas. They also want to make Leiden ‘more lively’ by squeezing in additional festivals and event spaces, noise complaints be damned. PvdA is focused on many of the same goals while going a step further towards making the centre of Leiden car-free. They’re also pushing to increase job growth and Leiden’s ‘knowledge economy’. VVD is playing a similar tune while trying to boost tourism and opportunities for entrepreneurs. They want to work on the housing problems by promoting residential overhauls in or near underutilised business parks while boosting capacity closer to the centre with high-density projects. VVD is also one of the few parties in town committed to getting rid of many of the often nit-picky rules that have been driving local shop and cafe owners bonkers in recent years. Partij Sleutelstad, the newest party in the city, wants to revamp the parking system and make it cheaper for local residents. They’re also eager to increase police patrols and affordable housing while finding practical solutions for Leiden’s traffic woes. The always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Partij voor de Dieren have rolled out a proposal dubbed ‘Plan B voor Leiden’ to turn it into a ‘a livable city where people and animals comes first’. Current council coalition:   D66, SP, VVD, PvdA Current council make-up:  D66 (12),  PvdA (5), VVD (5), SP (5), CDA (4), GroenLinks (4),Leefbaar Leiden (2), CU (1), PvdD (1) Total number of voters: 92,380 International voters: 6,400 or 6.9% or 2.7 seats on the local council 2018 local election information in English Leiden, key questions: housing, integration and jobs D66 election manifesto summary Partij voor de Dieren general information   More >