Council of Europe raises concerns about unelected Dutch mayors
The Council of Europe is concerned about how Dutch mayors and King's Commissioners are appointed. It said this in a report published on Tuesday by a committee that monitors local authorities in Europe. The committee would prefer that the mayors and commissioners be elected through elections.
In the Netherlands, anyone can apply for the position of mayor and commissioner. Municipal councils then choose a candidate for mayor and the Provincial Council for commissioner. They propose their candidate to the King, who then appoints them.
But according to the Council of Europe, the roles of these administrators have become increasingly political and important in recent decades. The report concludes that decisions about safety, public order, or even fundamental rights are increasingly made at the municipal or provincial level. The mayors and commissioners also sometimes openly question national policy, for example, concerning the local reception of asylum seekers.
The committee, therefore, considers it appropriate to hold elections for these positions. To "ensure citizens' rights to participate in the conduct of local public affairs and to comply with the fundamental principles of democracy," the report said.
The committee also sees that municipalities have been given considerably more tasks since 2015. According to the report, Dutch municipalities and provinces have a wide range of tasks to perform, much more than in other European countries. The committee recommends that the local authorities be given sufficient funds to carry out the tasks, especially in social assistance and youth care.
The Council of Europe is a prominent European human rights organization, of which nearly 50 European countries are members. The Council is not part of the European Union. Russia and Turkey are also members of the Council.
Reporting by ANP