Shortage of local council candidates looms ahead of March elections
With 2.5 months to go before the March 19 local elections, a number of small town and district councils are finding it hard to recruit enough potential councillors.
Officials from 97 local authorities told television current affairs show Nieuwsuur it has become more difficult to find candidates. In total, 220 local council clerks (out of a total 408) filled in the questionnaire.
The situation is most acute in smaller towns and districts with fewer than 50,000 people, Nieuwsuur said.
The shortage is likely to have consequences for local parties with a smaller apparatus, Nieuwsuur said. Local parties traditionally have a strong showing in many parts of the Netherlands.
In 20 districts local parties with sitting councillors may not take part in the March elections at all because of the lack of prospective councillors. For example, local party Lieropse Lijst in Someren, which has been represented on the city council for 50 years, is set to disappear.
Experts told the programme the trend is worrying and has implications for the quality of councillors, whose job is to keep a check on the way the mayor and aldermen do their jobs.
Over the next few years, local authorities are being given three main new tasks as part of the government’s decentralisation efforts. These include youth social work, care of the elderly and new work-for-welfare rules.
Paul Hofstra of Rotterdam city council’s audit office said he is worried about the ability of councillors to ensure money is well spent.
‘If you see that a large council like Rotterdam has just three people who understand financial matters, then I am very concerned about the system of checks in smaller town councils,’ he told the programme.
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