Dutch aldermen to face stricter screening in fight against corruption

On Monday Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs will present a new plan to fight corruption in local politics. The plan includes a mandatory 'integrity test' for all prospective aldermen. They will also have to hand in a Declaration of Good Behavior before they can take office, AD reports.

"Integrity violations are taking their toll", Ollongren wrote in a letter that will be sent to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, on Monday. "Citizens rightly expect politicians to serve the public interest. That is why the actions of political office holders must be spotless." 

The Minister plans to change municipal law so that candidate aldermen will be obliged to hand in a Declaration of Good Behavior, something that is currently done only on a voluntary basis. There will also be a mandatory 'basic integrity test', which must identify vulnerabilities like the risk of conflicts of interest or sensitivity to corruption in a candidate alderman. Ollongren hopes that this will not only reduce corruption in local politics, but also prevent criminals infiltrating local governments.

Many municipalities already hire private agencies to screen their alderman candidates. "Market parties who use their own standards and do not always have a license are often called on", Ollongren said, according to the newspaper. That is why she wants to introduce a national integrity test, that is the same for everyone. 

Criminology professor Emile Kolthoff at the Avans University of Applied Sciences recently called for intelligence service AIVD or a special police department to screen candidate municipal councilors. Local factions of political parties make almost no effort to screen new candidates, and it is therefore easy for criminals to slip into local governments, he said to newspaper Trouw last month.