Denk aims high as it reveals candidates for Rotterdam council

Denk aims high as it reveals candidates for Rotterdam council

Denk, the party founded by two Dutch Turkish MPs who split from Labour in 2015, has published its list of candidates for Rotterdam city council when local elections are held in March. Party leader Tunahan Kuzu unveiled the top six candidates on the city's Coolsingel on Sunday. The name at the top of the list, Stephan van Baarle, was a surprise to many, although the 26-year-old who studied sociology at the city's Erasmus University has worked as a parliamentary researcher for Denk since its foundation. Van Baarle, whose father is of Turkish origin, said: 'I had a choice: did I carry on reading research papers into inequality or go and do something about it?' The list also includes Aydin Peksert, an independent councillor who was expelled from Nida, another party with Muslim roots, amid accusations that he was a 'spy in the camp' for Denk. However, Peksert is ranked 19 of the 20 candidates, just above Kuzu himself, who occupies the position of 'lijstduwer' - a high-profile candidate whose name is put at the bottom of the list to attract more votes for the whole group. Rotterdam is expected to be one of the most fiercely contested municipalities, with several parties chasing the same fraction of the electorate. While Denk are hoping to eclipse the popularity of local party Nisa, the populist party Leefbaar Rotterdam are engaged in a battle for votes with Geert Wilders's PVV group, which is fielding candidates in the city for the first time. See also: The local elections are looming – and you may well be able to vote Forum voor Democratie, the fast-growing right-wing party led by Thierry Baudet, is also taking part but has entered an electoral pact with Leefbaar. Van Baarle said he believed Denk had the potential to become the largest group on the council, partly because of the fragmentation in Rotterdam's politics. 'If we win six to 10 seats we can be the biggest group,' he said. 'At the 2017 parliamentary elections 25,000 Rotterdammers voted for Denk. That's equivalent to six seats on the council.' In the 2014 election Leefbaar Rotterdam was the largest party with 14 of the 45 seats, followed by Labour (PvdA) on eight, D66 on six and the Socialists (SP) with five. The council is run by a coalition of Leefbaar, D66 and the Christian Democrats (CDA).  More >



Election results to be announced in public

Election interview: ‘Long-term issues are swamped by populism’ Local councils will be required to announce election results in public meetings and publish them on the internet from next year as part of a plan to make the system more transparent. The government aims to have the new rules in place by March 2019, in time for the next provincial assembly elections which also determine the make-up of the Senate. At present election results are announced by mayors but there is no requirement to publish the outcome in full. The measures are expected to lengthen the time it takes for representatives to be sworn in after election day from eight days to 13. Other reforms include a ban on election candidates working at polling stations in order to prevent conflicts of interest. Around 14,000 votes cast in this year's general election in March were wrongly counted as a result of mistakes made by the central counting office in each of the 20 electoral districts, the electoral council reported. The government ordered all votes in the election to be counted by hand in response to concerns that electronic or digital counts were vulnerable to hacking.  More >


Four parties start new coalition bid

Election interview: ‘Long-term issues are swamped by populism’ Former Labour party senator Herman Tjeenk Willink says he wants to step down from the coalition negotiations as a new round of talks begins to form a government. Four parties – the Liberals (VVD), Christian Democrats (CDA), D66 and the Christian Union (CU) – will sit round the negotiating table on Monday to decide if they can put together a coalition agreement. The CU was previously rejected as a coalition partner by D66 because of their strong differences on ethical issues such as euthanasia. Tjeenk Willink is due to report to Parliament on Tuesday on his efforts to put together a coalition following the election on March 15, which saw 13 parties elected to Parliament. If the four parties do a deal they will have a majority of just two in both the lower house and one in the senate. NOS said the 75-year-old Tjeenk Willink felt his job was done after whittling down the possible coalition options to one. The CU was invited back to the table after attempts to form a coalition with the green party GroenLinks broke down over the issue of immigration and asylum. Caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte said he was 'looking forward to the talks' after the four party leaders went out to dinner together last week. Rutte's VVD party is said to favour former finance minister Gerrit Zalm as Tjeenk Willink's replacement. The remaining nine party leaders have been invited to discuss the outcome of the preliminary talks with Tjeenk Willink before he concludes his report. PVV leader Geert Wilders has declined the invitation. Wilders clashed with the senator during the formation of the government in 2010, accusing him of lacking impartiality and favouring a coalition that would have excluded his party. In the end Rutte formed a minority government with the CDA supported by PVV votes, which lasted less than 18 months.  More >


Thousands of votes wrongly counted

Election interview: ‘Long-term issues are swamped by populism’ Thousands of votes cast in this year's Parliamentary election were counted for the wrong party or not at all, an independent study has found. Analysis by Politieke Academie, which specialises in elections and campaigns, uncovered 14,000 discrepancies between the official results and counts carried out by the 388 municipal authorities. By far the largest number of wrongly attributed votes were in Boxmeer, North Brabant, where 7600 votes were omitted from the official total. Only votes for the VVD, PvdA, PVV and Socialist Party were sent from the count. The Christian Democrats have raised questions in Parliament about the missing votes. MP Hanke Bruins Slot said it was important to ensure that 'our electoral process is working and in particular that it can be relied on'. Boxmeer is part of the Den Bosch electoral district, where a number of other issues were identified, such as 1100 votes for the progressive liberal D66 party that were not included in the results from Bergeijk. No advantage Elsewhere, the votes cast for Thierry Baudet's Forum voor Democratie party in Goes were given to Jacques Monasch's Nieuwe Wegen. Baudet won two seats in Parliament while Monasch fell short of the threshold for a seat. Although the election outcome was close and the 150 seats shared between 13 parties, Politieke Academie said no party gained or lost seats because of the mistakes. The interior ministry has said that the election result is final and irrevocable. Politieke Academie said that the decision to count all votes by hand because of fears of hacking had contributed to the problem, along with a lack of checking mechanisms.  More >


Turkish minister drops legal action

Election interview: ‘Long-term issues are swamped by populism’ Turkey's families minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya has dropped her legal action against her 'expulsion' from the Netherlands after she was barred from attending a campaign rally in Rotterdam. De Telegraaf reported that the government in The Hague authorised national counter-terrorism co-ordinator Dick Schoof to declare Kaya an 'undesirable alien', but the minister left the country on her own volition before the measure could be enforced. Kaya was at the centre of a stand-off in the early hours of March 12 when she tried to attend a rally in Rotterdam in support of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's campaign to extend his presidential powers in a referendum. She was barred from entering the Turkish consulate during a stand-off lasting several hours, during which a crowd of Erdogan's supporters massed outside the building waving Turkish flags. Kaya was eventually given a police escort to the German border. Earlier in the week the Dutch government had withdrawn the landing rights for foreign affairs minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu, who was due to address a rally of Dutch Turks. Turkey retaliated by closing diplomatic posts and ordering the Dutch ambassador to stay out of Ankara. Sources quoted in the Telegraaf said Schoof gave a written order to Rotterdam's police chief, Fred Akerboom, on behalf of the cabinet stating that Kaya was not welcome in the country. The document was to be used as a last resort if the minister refused to go voluntarily. In the immediate aftermath of the row Kaya vowed to take legal action against the Dutch state because it had failed to explain why she was required to leave the country. However, sources told the Telegraaf that the case had been dropped because she had not formally been expelled.  More >