Local politicians unknown to voters

Half of all Dutch people don't know a single council member in their municipality, not even from hearsay. Of people under 35 years of age, 60 percent can't name one council member. 

According to a survey from research bureau Ipsos done at request from the AD to the familiarity with local politicians, it seems that the bigger the city, the more unrecognizable the council members up for election.

In cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, 55 percent of people don't know a single council member. For young people up to the age of 35, local politicians are especially unfamiliar. Of them, 60 percent can't name a local council member.

According to Professor of Electoral Policies, Jean Tillie from the University of Amsterdam, the results of the research show the "failure of local politics."

"You want local politics to be visible and present and to be controlled well. Especially now that municipalities get more money to spend."

Tillie is unsettled by the outcome of the research. There is possible "democratic deficit", according to him. "If nobody knows who you are, then you as council member should feel the urgency to do something about this. You would like this to sink into the heads of our political representatives, but unfortunately there is no grasp at all of the urgency."

The research shows that in rural areas and small towns, local politicians are more recognized. Two-thirds of people there know one or more council members. One-third will vote for someone he or she knows personally.

The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) expects local politicians will become more visible in the next few years, as new tasks in healthcare and employment are going to be introduced by municipalities, the VNG say.