Everything expats need to know about the upcoming local elections
On March 14, 15, and 16, people up and down the country will head to polling stations to cast their ballots in the Dutch municipal elections. As an expat in the Netherlands, you likely have many questions about the upcoming local elections, the effect the results could have on your life, and the role you could play in voting.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Netherlands’ 2022 municipal elections.
When is the election?
Polls open at 7.30am on Monday, March 14. A select number of polling stations will be open on March 14 and 15, and all polling stations across the Netherlands will be open from 7.30am to 9pm on Wednesday, March 16.
Can expats and internationals vote?
Yes, expats and internationals living in the Netherlands can vote as long as they're over the age of 18 and registered with their local municipality.
All EU citizens are automatically eligible to vote. Non-EU citizens must have lived in the Netherlands uninterrupted for at least five years.
Non-EU citizens living in Amsterdam will be able to vote in the District Council (Bestuurscommissie) elections if they've been registered in the city for more than three years.
How and where can you vote?
If you're eligible to vote this month, there are a couple of things you'll need to remember to take with you when you go to cast your ballot.
No later than 14 days before the election, you'll have received your voting pass in the mail to your home address. When you vote, make sure to take this pass with you, as well as a legitimate form of ID (i.e. a passport, driving licence, or residence permit). You won't need to take a pen with you, as red pencils will be provided.
Armed with these items, you can head to one of the thousands of polling stations across the Netherlands on March 14, March 15, or March 16. In the 2018 municipal elections, there were almost 8.700 polling stations.
When you receive your voting card in the mail, it'll be accompanied by a list of all the polling stations in your municipality. No matter where you live, you'll be able to vote at any polling station within your municipality.
Voting by proxy
Can't make it to vote on polling day? That's fine too! You can provide someone else with the power to cast your vote for you. Do this by filling out the form on the back of your voting card.
What is everyone voting for?
Every four years, the Netherlands goes to the polls to vote for their Municipal Council in the gemeenteraadsverkiezingen. This year, of the 345 municipalities in the Netherlands, all but 11 of them will be holding elections.
In the gemeenteraadsverkiezingen, voters have the opportunity to choose the party they want to be represented by on their Municipal Council. The candidates who receive the most votes will receive a seat on the council and serve as councillors.
District Council elections in Amsterdam
This year will also see residents of the Dutch capital vote in the District Council elections, giving them the opportunity to select their representatives for their city district (Noord, Zuid, Centrum, etc) on the District Committee. Members of the District Committee represent the interests of residents and entrepreneurs in each district.
Residents of Weesp and Driemond will also be able to vote in the Weesp Administrative Committee elections.
Municipalities without elections in 2022
If you're registered in one of the following municipalities, you won't be voting in an election in March:
- Dijk en Waard
- Land van Cuijk
Which parties can you vote for?
Which parties you can vote for depends entirely on where you live, as each party can decide which elections it wants to take part in. Cities will also have their own local parties, such as the Democratisch Socialisten Amsterdam (DSA) in Amsterdam, and Hart voor Den Haag in The Hague.
Of course, many municipalities will see all of the major Dutch political parties fight for seats on the councils:
- People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD)
- Party for Freedom (PVV)
- Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA)
- Socialist Party (SP)
- Labour Party (PvdA)
- Christian Union (CU)
- Party for the Animals (PvdD)
- Reformed Political Party (SGP)
- Forum for Democracy (FvD)
Information about which political parties are running in your area can be found on your municipality website. You'll also receive an overview of all the candidates delivered to your home address ahead of the elections.
Not sure who to vote for? Many municipalities have their own personalised stemwijzer to help determine how you feel about major issues in your local area, and how your views align with those of the parties. Groningen has even launched an English-language stemwijzer to help make Dutch politics more accessible for internationals.
Coronavirus restrictions at the polling stations
As pretty much all coronavirus restrictions have been lifted by the Dutch government, there won’t be many measures in place during the municipal elections. Polling stations will be open on multiple days in order to avoid crowds, but face masks won’t be mandatory and voters won’t be required to maintain 1,5-metre distance. Free self-tests will be made available to polling staff and volunteers.
Vote in the 2022 municipal elections in March
Let your voice be heard and cast your vote in the Dutch municipal elections on March 14, 15, or 16!