Lack of local election candidates could open up councils to criminals

Photo: A J Luijten

Political parties are having a hard time finding candidates to stand in the local elections of March next year, making local government vulnerable to criminal infiltration, the NRC reported on Friday.

The paper looked at 75  parties in 35 towns and cities, and found half of them were having trouble recruiting enough potential councillors. Small local parties are particularly strapped for candidates.

Parties are advertising or recruiting via social media in an effort to fill their electoral lists. Fewer than half of the parties do not ask for a certificate of good conduct which would flag up any criminal acts a person has committed, the NRC said.

The association of councillors and the king’s commissioner in Gelderland warned earlier that the lack of candidates makes is relatively easy for criminals to gain a foothold in a local council. They can then use confidential information about such things as zoning plans, licenses or local crime fighting measures to their own advantage, the paper writes.

In 2014 40.2% of councils had ‘some to a lot of trouble’ finding potential councillors.