One thing that I found interesting on today’s Dutch city council election is the invitation for international community (non Dutch) who resides permanently in the Netherlands to participate/vote in the election. Yes, I received the invitation to vote despite of my Indonesian nationality. I am not sure if the Netherlands is the only country that practice this, but I am sure Indonesian election at provincial and municipality level would not invite the non Indonesians who resides in respective province/municipals to participate in similar elections.
The logic behind this participation at city level election is, any policies decided by the City Council would impact all residents in the respective city. It made sense.
It reminds me of Derde Kamer project by NCDO in early year 2000, the idea was to create a shadow parliament called Derde Kamer (Third Chamber) that consisted of Dutch citizens and International community, especially from developing countries. This chamber will formulate advise related to international development aid for developing countries to Dutch Parliament at Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber, House of Representative) . The idea was so brilliant that it would allow the developing countries citizens to be involved in the Dutch foreign policy process that may impact to their countries. Additionally it also involve Dutch citizens to voice their concern on development aid management and its practices in developing countries as receivers. Unfortunately I have never heard again on the fate of this Derde Kamer project after the recent economic crisis hit the European Union countries including the Netherlands. Nonetheless what I see is that the Netherlands would like to have democracy that allows people who affected to participate in the policy making process. My applause to this idealism.
Anyway, another story about Dutch City Council Election in Rotterdam, city where I resides, the liberal party in Rotterdam, VVD, advertised their campaign slogan “In Rotterdam spreken we Nederlands” which means “In Rotterdam, we speak Dutch”. Seriously. Rotterdam has the busiest port in Europe, the city has hundreds transnational companies and more than 40 percent of Rotterdam residents are not originally Dutch, and some of them are expatriates. Look, I am not Dutch but I do speak and read Dutch. However my work in an international organisation required me to speak, read and write in English, not Dutch. It’s just that Rotterdam has became a city where residents from all over the world stayed and conducting international business here and there. This international business brings money to the city, and additionally I thought it was Rotterdam’s ambition to be the Manhattan on the Maas. Obviously with such slogan, VVD does not share the ambition. I do hope VVD will not have the majority seats in Rotterdam City Council. I guess I will find out soon.
*Explanation on the photo: the vandal letter after VVD slogan “Met een aardappel in de keel” – it means “with potatoes on one person’s throat”