Mayors fear March general election may not be coronavirus-proof: NRC

Photo: A J Luijten
Photo: A J Luijten

Five Dutch mayors have told the NRC they are seriously concerned about whether or not the March general election can be organised safely.

The mayors, from towns such as Venray and Ede, say they fear that the election beginning on March 17 will become a trigger for spreading coronavirus and that the risk of infection may lead to many people deciding not to vote.

‘We should simply say that we are not going to do this,’ Venray mayor Luc Winants told the paper.

Home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren, who is in charge of organising the elections, told MPs on Wednesday that only a small minority of local authorities are not yet prepared for the election, although a quarter are still looking for volunteers to man polling stations.

Nevertheless, the mayors want ministers to ask their health advisors on the Outbreak Management Team if it is still responsible to proceed with the national vote. ‘I am in a very difficult position,’ said Jos Hessels, mayor of the Limburg town of Echt-Susteren ‘I have to organise [voting], but it does not feel right.’


A number of measures have already been put in place to make sure that voting can be carried out safely.

Polling stations have to be adjusted or relocated to make sure people can keep 1.5 metres apart. Voting is also being spread over three days (March 15,16 and 17) and more use will be made of postal votes for the over-70s.

A record 41 parties have now submitted candidate lists to the electoral council and its decision on how many qualify for inclusion is due on Friday.

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