Most local councillors are called Jan, Peter and Henk
Men named Jan, Peter, Henk, Hans, Wim, Jos, Bert, Paul, Erik, Frank and Frans dominate local councils in the Netherlands, accounting for some 10% of all locally elected politicians, according to research by the Stem op een Vrouw (vote for a woman) lobby group.
‘Councils have an enormous surplus of white men,’ said the foundation’s chairwoman Devika Partiman. ‘You see it everywhere there is power. Earlier research has shown there are more company chief executives called Peter than female CEOs combined.’
Stem op een Vrouw is urging voters to opt for a female candidate who is high on the party list but not quite high enough to win a seat without preference votes. In 2018, tactical voting resulted in an additional 70 women winning seats, Partiman said.
Since then, however, the number of women with seats on town and city councils has gone down from 34% to 31% as more women leave their political role early. And just seven of the Netherlands 345 local authorities have 50% or more female members, Stem op een Vrouw says.
‘You need a magnifying glass to spot the seven lonely places where women have equal representation,’ Partiman said.
Amsterdam, Baarle-Nassau, Blaricum, Dijk en Waard, Schiermonnikoog, Wageningen and Zoeterwoude are at least 50% female, a stark contrast to Hardinxveld-Giessendam (100% male) and Alblasserdam and Steenbergen (95%).
The best performing province is Friesland, where 35% of councillors are female, the worst is Limburg where the tally is just 25%.
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