English in Municipal Elections

In the Municipal Elections of March 21st many non-Dutch citizens are allowed to cast their vote. Yet city communication is only in Dutch. STIP asked questions.

If you are a EU-National registered in Delft or a Non-EU-National registered for a minimum of 5 years in the Netherlands you are allowed to vote for the municipal elections. Delft, with its University and various international institutes and companies, has a lot of foreign nationals living within its borders; Many of which are allowed to vote coming elections. Yet the letters the city has sent accompanying the voting pass are all in Dutch, which is a missed opportunity. Especially since the information is available on the English website of the city.

Not sure if you're allowed to vote? Go to Can I Vote and check!

STIP feels very strongly about taking away barriers to vote. Not informing our non-Dutch voters properly makes it more difficult for them to participate in the democratic process and unable to decide how the city they live in should be governed. Very relevant topics for Internationals, like: Housing, Public Services & Education, are all subject to the City Council.

In order to improve city communication STIP has asked the following (translated) questions (update: answers) to the city government:

  • Does the city agree that as many voters as possible should vote?
    Update: 'Yes'
  • Does the city agree that for non-Dutch speakers there is a higher barrier to votes, when information is only in Dutch?
    Update: 'The information is not only available in Dutch. The municipality also offers information about the election in English, as an extra service to non-Dutch speakers. This information can be found on the English part of the municpal website: www.delft.nl/en/news/municipal-elections.'
  • Is the city willing to a) start a social media campaign to reach these voters and b) provide English information next elections?
    Update: 'Running up to the elections on the 21st of March the municipality has launched a campaign to make the residents of Delft aware of the upcoming elections and in particular the rules that apply to voting. In advance it was decided not to offer special guidance to non-Dutch speakers to increase voter turnout. Therefore the campaign was in Dutch. In the next elections the English information about the election process will again be shared on the municipal website. For these upcoming elections the munipality will draw the attention of the residents of Delft to this English website via social media.'

There was no decision in advance to speak in a foreign language
target groups separately in the context of attendance promotion.
The utterances are therefore in Dutch. In next elections will
again English information about the election process will be shared
via the municipal website. Before the next elections, the
The municipality of Delft once again draws attention to this English language
website via social media.

STIP has made sure that a large number of forms have been translated in English, there is an English website and also the telephone number 14015 is accessible in English. Still, there are large steps to make. Standard letters are still mostly only sent in Dutch, notices for roadworks are in Dutch and English content on the website is meager compared to the Dutch equivalent. If Delft wants to be a truly international city, then non-Dutch speakers should have the same access to city services as well as being able to determine how their city should be run.

Read more on our English page or contact us via: stip@delft.nl

Written by: Elwin van Beurden