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Immigrants upstage municipal elections with preferential voting

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ENSCHEDE - Immigrant voters in the Netherlands provided important electoral support for the Labour Party (PvdA) in the recent municipal vote throughout the Netherlands, but this support is now the cause of a backlash among the party’s council members, who must make vacate their positions for immigrant candidates who were elected via the little used preferential vote option.

Polling indicates that the majority of immigrants in the Netherlands cast their ballot for the Dutch Labour party, the PvdA. However, they generally choose a compatriot who ranked somewhere in an unelectable place on the candidate list (as a rule, Dutch voters mark their ballot for the party by picking its slate leader. The immigrants (every resident has a vote in municipal elections) seem to have picked a compatriot on the list. By doing this, they maintained the party’s electoral support base but upset the ranking of the elected slate, elbowing out experienced native Dutch candidates ranking higher on the slate.

The outcome of the slate has given rise to turmoil within the PvdA. Enschede municipal councilor Andre Boersma who was pushed out of his council seat, bluntly states that the acronym PvdA now stands for the Party for the Immigrants (in Dutch Partij van de Allochtonen).


Enschede’s social democrats won nine seats, with four going to immigrants who ranked lower on the slate, but who were elected through the preference vote option. Only one of the four has any council experience. He was elected the same way four years ago.

In the Brabant city of Helmond, Labour’s situation is still more pronounced than it is in Enschede. Five of Helmond’s experienced Labour councilors must make way for Muslim newcomers, including a policeman of Moroccan origin. The sixth councilor, Helmond’s slate leader Seyit Yeyden, also an immigrant, is not happy with this development and laments that his party’s representation is no longer a good mix this way. According to him, a number of outstanding candidates have been elbowed out and that there is now no woman in his party’s municipal faction. Still, he says philosophically, the voter decides.