Even for local Rotterdammers, the municipal elections are a bit of a complicated affair. 519 candidates representing more than twenty parties are running, and most of them have snappy abbreviations (VVD, PVV, PvdA) for names to make matters more confusing. So if you’re an international student living far from family, old friends, and other things that may possibly influence your political affiliation, who do you vote for in these upcoming municipal elections? As a little social experiment, EM gave a Greek, a Frenchman, and a Bulgarian all the information on the local election one could need and asked them who they would vote for should they make it to the polls.
Stelina Kratsioti, Greece (Liberal Arts & Sciences)
“DENK. Coming down to this decision was quite hard since I was looking at three different parties. In the end, I chose DENK because they focus on the three main issues that I think we should be worrying about: economics, the environment, and social sustainability. They also have a different stance on integration. They say it shouldn’t be about integration but about the acceptance of subcultures, which is something I totally agree with. It’s a mindset that fits this city. They also said they want to bring Chinese and Arabic language classes into the education system so kids can speak fluently at one point and help with international relations and business later on.”
Tiago Chauvel, France (Management of International Social Challenges)
“I think I’d vote for the VVD. It seems their ideas match mine, and besides that, they also propose some policies regarding international students and students in general. They say they will invest in facilities and housing for students, and these are things that affect me. Rotterdam is a city with more than 20,000 students, but it’s not ready to house them all. And when they talk about facilities, I’m hoping they also mean transportation. Dutch students don’t have to pay for transportation and internationals do, so maybe they can arrange something for us. I was also thinking about D66 as they focused on social problems, but they didn’t have much input on student issues.”
Doni Georgiev, Bulgaria (Philosophy and Economics)
“If I would cast a vote it would be for GroenLinks. They appeal to what I believe in and what I’ve established as a political ideology for myself. First of all, something like half of the population of Rotterdam are internationals and migrants, so the city needs to be inclusive. I don’t think the party in power now, Leefbaar Rotterdam, are inclusive enough for a city like this. GroenLinks is. One thing I notice at University is that all the Dutch students I meet are from very wealthy backgrounds and I wonder where the people of the so-called lower social status are? I think there’s a lack of equal opportunity here and that’s something GroenLinks wants to address. I’m also all for sustainability and GroenLinks is a party that is active in addressing climate change. They could get the city to be more sustainable.”