Blog and opinion
7 March 2018 • by Fady Mikhail
Every vote counts
When I ask young adults if they already know which party will get their vote on the 21st, I often get the ‘huh?’ face. Then they ask me, ‘What’s the 21st all about?’ This leads me to conclude that young adults aren’t that interested in the municipal elections. Most of them think this has little to do with their own lives. Another remark I often hear is, ‘What difference does my vote make? Not enough to make the effort, right?’ Now, this is cause for concern! They just don’t seem to care that much about the elections.
No voting rights
In many countries, people have no voting rights or, if they do, their votes don’t count. This is still true, for example, in the country where I was born. For a long time, Egypt was governed by a dictatorship; people thought of democracy as a utopia. The population longed for a voice and wanted to vote for their favourite candidate. It all came to a head in 2011. That’s when people used social media to organise a revolution against the regime. The departure of President Mubarak was followed by an enormous relief and much rejoicing. A step toward democracy had been taken. Egyptians will be able to go to the poles in the near future. Egypt is now taking on a form of democracy.
And now back to the elections in the Netherlands. What we have in the Netherlands is something people in other countries don’t have. We are privileged to live in a democratic country. We have an opportunity to vote and contribute our input at both the municipal and national levels. Voting gives us a voice in what happens in our country and our immediate vicinity. If we don’t use our vote, how can we build the Netherlands of the future for our children and grandchildren?
Even certain citizens living in the Netherlands who don’t have Dutch citizenship can vote in the municipal elections. These are the ones who have a valid residence permit on the day of the elections and have lived as legal aliens for five years in the Netherlands. This is a nice chance for people like expats and international students to participate.
Becoming aware of our rights
I think it’s really important that we, as citizens of the Netherlands, become aware of our rights here. Voting is one of them. The political parties are trying to inform citizens, but citizens also have to take the initiative to become informed. Right now, the campaigns are in full swing and the media is flooded with information. There’s also an online voting advice tool – the Stemwijzer – to help in the choice of a party. Please take the time to complete it.
Hey, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the results later. Put your best foot forward on the 21st and get out there and vote. You can be sure I will, because my vote counts!
Fady is serving as a Youth Ambassador for The Municipality of The Hague with responsibilities related to education. In this position, he advises both the municipal authorities and other organisations in The Hague and serves as a liaison between young people and the municipal authorities. Fady is also a youth spokesperson for UNICEF, a guest teacher at primary schools, and a full-time student in Finance and Control at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.