A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Did you know its municipal election day today in the Netherlands? And did you know that as a foreign student you also have the right to vote when you are properly registered here?! (This counts for EU members at least; apparently non-EU members have to have lived here for at least 5 years in order to take part.) Well, I didn’t know that until I found a “stempas” in my post-box a few weeks ago, and I am very excited about it!
Even though as an international student in Leiden you get perfectly well around with very limited dutch skills, I sometimes have the feeling that not being able to speak the language means living in a bit of a parallel society. I don’t really know what is going on in the city politically. What’s the tenor in public discussions about social housing, squats, the building of mosques or of new parks around the Singel? I feel bad for still not being able to speak proper dutch and not knowing a lot about these issues, but I still have opinions about (most of) them. And having a right – and, I think, consequently a responsibility – to vote gave me the push to do some research and find out more. The “stemwijzer” was incredible helpful for this. It is a test you can do online to find out which party you agree with most. There are about 30 questions concerning all relevant elections topics, and you can compare your results with all parties taking part in your municipality. Of course, there is again the language problem, but with the help of a dutch friend, or even google translate (which will also add the right amount of humour to this), you will surely get the gist. And you learn a lot about what’s going on in the society you are actually a part of for the time being.
And then the only thing left to do is taking your “stempas” and an ID, go to your nearest “stembureau”, and make your choice! How exciting!
You will get a big sheet of paper with all the parties and candidates. You only have one vote, and you have to give it to a candidate, not to the party in general.
And that’s it!
Did you get a stempas? Have you been voting already? If not, there is still time until 9pm today! Take a friend, do the “stemwijzer”, and then go and make use of your democratic rights!