Q&A with local councillors
Founder and spokesman of the Facebook group ExpatsUtrecht, Darla Duggan, has asked Expat Center Utrecht and the International Talent Community of the Economic Board Utrecht to organize an English-language information session about the municipal elections 2018. The purpose of this information session is to provide voter internationals in the municipality of Utrecht with better information about the municipal elections on 21 March 2018.
On Thursday, March 15, more than 90 internationals came to the city hall to gain more insight into the municipal elections. Harmony Folz, public affaires consultant, gave a clear general introduction about the Dutch electoral system. For example, voting with a red pencil, preferential votes and the huge list of candidates. Subsequently, internationals were able to ask questions to the representatives of the parties. Of all the invited parties, the following 11 parties were present: CDA, Christen Unie, DENK, GroenLinks, SP, PvdA, D66, Party of the Animals, VVD, Student & Starter and the Pirate Party.
Questions that emerged included questions on diversity, affordable housing versus more green in Utrecht. There were also questions about how parties think more companies are coming to Utrecht and how to deal with smart cities vs. big data.
The internationals also came up with very practical questions, for example to place more public toilets. After the official Q & A, the internationals at the drinks could discuss their questions a bit more deeply by talking to the representatives of the parties one by one.
Currently, there are around 14,000 internationals working in the municipality of Utrecht. Of this, all EU citizens and non-EU citizens living legally in the Netherlands for at least five years may vote in municipal elections. Many of these internationals do not know that they are allowed to vote. Moreover, the election programs are hardly available in English and the Kieswijzer is only available in Dutch. This is a reason for many internationals not to vote. Harmony Folz has translated the electoral compass for the municipality of Utrecht into English. This can be downloaded here.
We hope that through this information session more internationals will vote and that in this way they will feel more connected to the municipality of Utrecht.