Polling stations open for Provincial Council, water board elections
At midnight, the first 15 polling stations opened across the country for the Provincial Council and water board elections. Polling stations at several train stations followed at around 5:00 a.m. In the rest of the Netherlands, polling stations will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
More than 13 million people aged 18 and older are entitled to vote in the Provincial Council elections today, according to data from Statistics Netherlands.
As with the previous Provincial Council elections in 2019, there are 570 seats allocated to the 12 Provincial Councils. The smallest province of Zeeland, with almost 400,000 residents, has 39 seats. Gelderland, Noord- and Zuid-Holland, and Noord-Brabant have the maximum number of 55 seats, according to the Electoral Council. These provinces have over 2 million inhabitants each.
The elected parties form the executive boards of the provinces. The Provincial Council is chaired by the King’s Commissioner and further consists of between three and nine deputies, each with their own portfolio. The position of a deputy is comparable to a Minister in national politics and an alderman in municipal politics. Every year, municipalities must submit their budget and annual accounts to the Provincial Council for approval.
The Provincial Council also determines whether municipalities can expand and where industrial estates and office parks may be built. The Provincial Council decides where to locate roads, railways, shipping connections, industrial areas, agriculture and nature areas, and recreational facilities. They’re also responsible for providing clean bathing water and safe routes for trucks carrying hazardous substances.
The members of the Provincial Councils will also elect the 75 members of the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, on May 30, together with the electoral colleges for Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba, and Dutch living abroad. The Eerste Kamer election is called a tiered election. Citizens elect the Provincial Councils, and the members of the Provincial Councils elect the Senators. Provincial Council members aren’t obliged to vote for their own parties’ candidates, but usually, this happens.
In the 2019 elections, far-right FvD won the most seats in the Provincial Councils (86), followed by the VVD (80) and CDA (72). The new Eerste Kamer will gather for the first time on Tuesday, June 13.
Water board elections
In addition to the Provincial Council elections, over 13 million people can also vote for their water boards on Wednesday. The general boards of the 21 water boards are elected by this vote.
The general management of a water board is comparable to the municipal council of a municipality. The board determines the water board’s policy and checks whether the executive board implements that policy properly. The general boards consist of 18 to 30 members, most elected in elections. Four places are reserved for secured seats belonging to farmers and managers of nature reserves.
Water boards’ tasks include the management of dikes and sluices to protect the Netherlands against flooding, treating wastewater, and ensuring that there is sufficient water, for example, by storing water during drought and pumping water away when there’s a lot of rain. The water boards also ensure that the water in ditches, rivers, and streams is clean and healthy for humans, plants, and animals.
Non-Dutch citizens are also allowed to vote for the water boards today. All adults can vote for the water board where they live “provided they are nationals of a European Union member state or legally reside in the Netherlands based on the Aliens Act,” a Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson said.
The reason why non-Dutch citizens can’t vote for the Provincial Councils is that they, in turn, elect the Senate. “It is widely regarded (including in other countries) as undesirable that persons who are not nationals of a country should be able to (directly or indirectly) influence through elections the foreign policy and defense matters of the country in question,” the spokesperson said. Dutch citizenship is also required for voting in the parliamentary elections.
Reporting by ANP