One way to determine your political preference is to quickly run through an online vote matcher. “It’s a good place to start, but these voting advice applications aren’t very nuanced,” says 22-year-old Nicky Papilaja, student in the International Bachelor Communication and Media (IBCoM) programme and responsible for the Stemcast podcast. “They may tell you which party aligns with your views, but that doesn’t mean you know exactly what they stand for and what their plans for the future are.” Indeed, Stemcast is intended as a fun way to increase people’s insight into today’s political landscape. “There have been so many protests and demonstrations recently – against the government’s Covid policies, among other things – that getting informed is more important than ever.”

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Nicky Papilaja

It’s a pity that some young people dismiss politics and the elections as boring or naff, agrees Molecular Medicine master student Isa de Beer, who made KiesAdvies in response. “Ultimately, our politicians need to be representative of society as a whole.” She believes that young voters should definitely take a close look at issues like the student loan system and the housing market: subjects that regularly make an appearance in the different instalments of KiesAdvies. “By actively contributing to the decision-making, young people can make a real difference and help correct the age imbalance in political representation.”

D66 comes out tops in EM’s poll

In a recent poll held by EM, D66 emerged as the largest party. Smaller parties like Volt, JA21 and Bij1 also performed well among the 1,134 respondents from Rotterdam’s academic community. Papilaja wasn’t surprised by these results: “In my podcast series, the one about D66 was also listened to the most often. And I am all in favour of the rise of these smaller parties. They can definitely make a difference in the House of Representatives – even when they only take a single seat.”

Stemcast, aflevering D66 Source:

‘I was really surprised by the Christian parties’

Making their podcasts, Papilaja and De Beer also arrived at new insights of their own. They now see a number of parties in a whole new light, for instance. “I was really surprised by what the Christian parties had to say,” notes De Beer. One of the people whom she spoke with was Tim Kuijsten of PerspectieF, ChristenUnie’s youth wing. “We talked about themes like abortion and gay marriage. If you start these conversations with an open mind and really listen to each other, you occasionally understand each other’s position better than expected.”

KiesAdvies, aflevering PerspectieF (ChristenUnie) Source:

Papilaja also learned a lot by making Stemcast. “I was surprised to see that PVV’s programme covers a lot more points than I had initially assumed. Most of it is about Islam, but it’s nevertheless very detailed and comprises about 50 pages.”

Own preference

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Isa de Beer

In an effort to keep things as neutral as possible, Papilaja did not express his personal political preference during the podcasts. “I’m a member of Bij1 myself. I did not explicitly state my position in Stemcast – although when I’m asking a question, I can’t always avoid my personal views from colouring the tone of my voice,” he admits.

De Beer also made a strong effort to remain objective. “We sent every single youth wing an invitation, and I didn’t express any personal opinions. In fact, I wasn’t too concerned about speaking my mind, since I’m a swing voter and have always been open to different views.”

‘Treat the elections like an exam’

It turns out one quarter of the students still haven’t decided which party they’ll be voting for. What should you do if you’re still on the fence? Regardless of what you decide, be sure to turn out and cast your vote, say both De Beer and Papilaja. “Read news coverage from a variety of sources, and try and look beyond your usual information bubble,” says Papilaja. “And above all: don’t be in too much of a hurry to decide. Treat the elections like studying for an exam. We don’t have one every year, so ultimately it’s not that huge a time investment.”

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