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The Netherlands - Living


As a foreign citizen, you can only participate in local elections (Gemeenteraadsverkiezingen), Waterschapsverkiezingen or local referendums. Participation in government elections is excluded. In the case of EU elections, if you confirm that you are not participating in the election in another country,then you vote as a resident of the Netherlands. You will automatically receive all papers in advance.

People with German citizenship can continue to vote in Germany under certain conditions. The Federal Returning Officer provides all this information.


Local elections

Every four years, municipal elections take place in the Netherlands. The last local elections took place on March 21, 2018. 335 municipalities participated.

Municipal council, mayor and deputy mayors
The smallest communities in the Netherlands have 9 seats, the largest 45, depending on the number of inhabitants.

The College van Burgemeester & Wethouders (B & W) is responsible for the daily administration of the community. The mayor is the chairman of the municipal council and the college of mayors and deputy mayors. Deputy mayors are appointed by the local council. Mayors are appointed by the government following a procedure in which the council also has an important voice.

In order to vote, voters must meet a number of requirements. In all elections, voters should be 18 years or older. Voters receive a ballot (stempas) at least 14 days before the election. Four days before the election, voters receive the list of candidates, addresses and opening hours of polling stations and mobile polling stations. They are also provided with information on accessibility for voters with physical disabilities.

Residents of the Netherlands who are not Dutch nationals may in certain cases participate in local elections. They are 3 groups:

  1. EU citizen
  2. Non-Dutch residents who are not EU citizens
  3. Non-EU citizens employed by an international organization or another state (diplomatic service)

In all cases: minimum age is 18 and no exclusion from suffrage.

Voting rights for EU citizens (non-Dutch)
Citizens of other Member States of the European Union who live in the Netherlands have the same rights as the Dutch (right to vote and stand for election) for the municipal elections.
It is important that you live in the Netherlands on the day you are nominated and that you are registered in the municipality register. Moreover citizens of the Netherlands and other Member States who are national citizens cannot be excluded from voting.
If you desire more clarifications, more information is offered by the Kiesraad.

Voters need to identify themselves when they vote in the polling station. A valid proof of identity may expire for up to 5 years on the day of the election. Since 2009, the Netherlands has been voting with red pencil and paper after voting with a voting machine for more than 30 years.
Voters can choose freely and can also abstain. Someone abstains if he does not tick a box of the ballot. Abstention like a non-election has no influence on the later distribution of seats. For the calculation of the result and the electoral threshold, only the votes cast are counted.

Wahl-O-Mat i
The best-known decision aids are Mijnstem.nl, Kieskompas and Stemwijzer.nl. They give an overview of each community.
On the website of the electoral council you will find general information on the local elections.

i Wahl-O-Mat ist ein Tool der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung und kommt ursprünglich aus den Niederlanden