Expats in the Netherlands miss the boat for EU election voting

Published:  16 May at 6 PM
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Around 60,000 EU nationals living and working in the Netherlands have registered to vote in the May 23 EU elections, but a good number didn’t know they needed to sign up and have lost the chance.

One issue which has always annoyed European expats living in the Netherlands is that, in general, politicians don’t seem to even acknowledge they exist. Long-stayers with their own businesses who intend to make the country their forever home are committed to being active in engaging in Dutch society are now wondering whether they’ve made the right choice. Registering to vote has, in fact, been a legal requirement for two decades, but many incomers haven’t been aware of the law as it’s not a requirement for voting in waterboard or local elections.

According to an article in the English language Dutch News, a good number of local expats are now disenfranchised. Some 400,000 EU member state citizens are resident in the Netherlands and would have been eligible to vote had they registered, with several saying they’d voted in previous EU elections without registering first. According to the Home Affairs ministry, letters were sent out to all Dutch local councils ordering them to inform EU expats by letter of the need to register before the cut-off date.

Expats in a number of towns and cities including Gouda, Roermond, Haarlam, Heerlen and Amersfoort are insisting no city hall communications were received. Readers of the article are now angry they didn’t receive the instructions, with one saying none of the Dutch political parties ever acknowledged expatriates’ contributions to city economies or took into account expats’ particular situations.
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