Expats eligible to vote in March 18 Water Authority elections
Citizens of the Netherlands are soon to head to the polls to elect their provincial representatives.
But although only Dutch nationals hold the right to vote for the House of Representatives and the Provincial Council, expats are sure to be seen standing in line at the voting booths on March 18.
This is because, for the first time, the provincial elections will be combined with those of the regional Water Authorities (waterschappen).
Since water management issues revolve around the allocation of tax money, which expats also pay, anyone at least 18 years of age and registered with their gemeente is eligible to help choose council members for the Water Authority in their district.
Water and the Dutch
Water management may not sound like a topic worth too much attention from the average expat.
However, it is a particularly salient issue in the Netherlands. Amsterdam’s world-famous canals, the polders in Holland and the Ijsselmeer with its famous Afsluitdijk all require regular attention from experts in water technology and policy.
The Oosterscheldekering in Zeeland, too, is a world-renowned feat of engineering. Without its proper management, the country would be faced with catastrophic floods.
The role of the Water Authority
The Water Authority was conceived to ensure the proper operation of dikes and a sufficient supply of clean, drinkable water. In this sense, it is fundamental to the safety and health of Dutch and expats alike.
In the upcoming elections voters will be asked to choose a candidate to send to each regional Water Authority board. Over the next four years, these representatives will take part in decisions about local water management issues.
Candidates and procedures
Geographically, Water Authority districts do not always follow provincial lines. In North Holland, there are separate branches for Rijnland; Amstel, Gooi en vecht; and Hollands Noorderkwartier.
Residents eligible to vote should have received a poll card by post from their regional Water Board by March 4 at the latest. This includes information on the location of nearby voting stations.
Voting booths will be open on March 18 between 7.30am and 9pm. Voters must present a valid ID document on arrival.
Official results will become available five days after the election.
For more information on water management issues and how to vote, have a look at these pages:
› The Water Authorities main website enables voters to identify their own districts.
› Information is available in English for residents of Amsterdam and its surroundings.
› A list of political groups involved and details of their election platforms have been published on the website of the Regional Public Water Authority for Amstel, Gooi en Vecht.