Saturday 28 May 2022

Many international workers don’t know if they can vote

Conceptual visualization of doubt when voting for elections

International workers are keen to vote in the local elections on March 16 but 28% don’t know if they can, and 37% have not yet decided who to vote for, according to research by the International Community Advisory Panel.

In total, almost 1,230 people took part in the online poll, which was carried out four weeks ahead of the local vote.

Housing is the most pressing issue, with 49% saying making sure there are more affordable homes for sale is a major topic, and 48% calling for cheaper rental housing.

Almost one in three want to see more action to tackle climate change – such as through wind turbines – and 29% would like to see more being done to tackle poverty. Tackling discrimination was cited by 26% of respondents as a major issue.

‘The housing crisis is a huge problem and I’m afraid my number one priority at the moment,’ said one respondent. ‘I expect to see some fast action from my municipality.’

‘They have set up some good community initiatives but they are too focused on business and keeping the middle classes happy,’ said another. ‘They need to do more to support the disadvantaged and vulnerable in our city.’

There were, however, some regional variations reflecting local issues. In Amsterdam, for example, 52% of respondents say affordable housing is a big campaign issue, while sorting out waste collection was cited by 36%. In third place in the Dutch capital was tackling poverty.

‘The council has more focus on reducing tourism than the garbage collection,’ one city resident said.

Language

Another issue raised by many respondents was the lack of information in languages other than Dutch. EU regulations require national authorities to inform EU citizens about exercising their voting rights bu most rely on ‘passive information’, such as mentioning voting procedures on their websites.

All EU residents and people who have lived in the Netherlands for more than five years and are officially registered with their local council are eligible to take part in the election.

In the ICAP survey, just 13% of respondents said their local authority had published information about the elections in English and 44% said they did not know if this had been done.

‘Voting is a democratic right and it is worrying that so many people don’t know if they can vote or not,’ said ICAP board member Deborah Valentine.

Party support

The poll also indicates a sharp downturn in support for GroenLinks and D66 although 37% of survey participants are still undecided about who to vote for.

In 2018, 25% of respondents voted for GroenLinks and 24% for D66. This year, 15% say they have already decided to vote for GroenLinks and 12% for D66. Pan-European party Volt can count on 7.5% support and the VVD 5%.

Although no exact figures are available, several hundred thousand international workers are entitled to take part and in some cities, their votes could be crucial.

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