The Dutch senate has voted in favour of a plan to remove the way mayors are named from the constitution, a measure which clears the way for the introduction of elected mayors.
The measure, proposed by coalition party D66, managed to win the necessary two-thirds majority needed for a constitutional change. Senators from the Labour party, the fundamentalist Christian SGP and the independent OSF voted against the move.
Currently mayors in the Netherlands are technically crown appointees and nominated by the local authority they will represent after behind-the-scenes meetings.
The door is now open to some form of elected mayor, either by a straight vote in the municipality or, for example, by allowing the biggest party on the council to fill the role.
Earlier this month the Volkskrant reported that while support for the Labour party (PvdA) may have collapsed at last year’s general election, the party continues to dominate when it comes to new mayoral and other official appointments.
So far this year, 11 Labour party supporters have been named as mayors, the same number as for the right-wing Liberal VVD and well above the number of D66 (7) and CDA (6) appointments.
The issue of how to elect mayors is likely to be a dominant theme in the run up to next March’s provincial council elections. In addition, D66 leader Rob Jetten will use it to show that his party is in favour of administrative renewal, despite voting to phase out advisory referendums.
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