Election day in Amsterdam

Photo Credit: Daquella manera via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Daquella manera

Election day in Amsterdam coming up also for expats.

On 19 March 2014, people living in Amsterdam have the opportunity to vote for a new City Council. All EU citizens can vote in these local elections, as can other nationals who have officially lived in the city for more than five years.

For the 1st time this year political parties have discovered the group of 60.000 international residents that is allowed to vote. So some of them even provide their information in English. They realize that this ‘group’ is important for the economic vibrancy of the city.

So who is ‘the expat’?

And once we have that clear, what is the best way to facilitate this group of internationals that is so crucial for the future of this city?

These questions and more were discussed during the international community election event last week. The evening was hosted by the Expat center, who had joined forces with several key players from Amsterdam’s international community.

The event included an interactive political debate with representatives from eight parties. Among the issues discussed were the shortage of affordable appartments and the importance of learning Dutch and the issue of integration. (for a summary of the highlights of this evening visit Dutchnews.nl)

One participant said: “We want to treat you as an Amsterdammer. We want you to have equal rights.”

Equal rights sounds reasonable, yes. I wonder if this value of equality (one of the Dutch core values) is appealing to all the international residents. For example, the free Dutch language courses which have now been cancelled. This was a great asset for some. However, I also know quite some internationals who do not care for learning Dutch or have their priorities elsewhere.

Instead, wouldn’t it be more attractive to cater their different needs so that they feel welcome and they stay for the amount of years that they were planning to?

178 nationalities are represented in this group, even more cultural backgrounds and personalities.

It’s impossible for only a few organizations or service suppliers to cater their needs, nor is there a magic formula for all of them. Everyone has their own unique specialty to give which will make some internationals enthusiastic and make others turn away. Often it’s not about the service you provide but the trust you aspire or the personality you are. A Spanish lawyer looks for different signs of trust than an Indian coder!

So if you are an expat, trailing spouse, free mover, love-pat, migrant or any other form of international resident, you now have the right to vote for the party that facilitates your needs best.

A copy of the Election Newspaper has been delivered to your house earlier this month, containing information about the elections, where you can vote and what you have to take with you. Good luck!







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