On March 17, the Netherlands will go to the polls, unless it is decided to postpone the elections because of the Corona crisis. But so far, the Dutch government doesn’t want to go that route, and numerous measures are being taken to ensure the elections will be safe. A category of senior voters (to which my wife and I also belong) will have the opportunity to vote by mail. That has never before happened in the Netherlands. I think, however, that I will go to the nearby polling station and use the red pencil to color one spot on the gigantic ballot paper. It is a kind of ritual that I cherish.
It will indeed be a very large ballot paper, because no fewer than 37 parties are participating in these parliamentary elections. There are many newcomers and most of them will most likely not reach the electoral threshold. The votes cast for these unsuccessful parties are distributed, using a complicated calculation method, among the parties that do get seats in parliament. So, you run the risk that your vote may unintentionally help a party, with which you thoroughly disagree, to gain an extra seat.
There are a few other aspects of our election system that I think should be reconsidered. Having this large number of parties that can participate in the elections and will possibly only get one or two seats leads to a fragmentation that has many disadvantages. But I am glad that we do not have a two-party system, where your choice is sometimes mainly determined by a strong dislike for one party, and you then vote for the other party, even though you are not really happy with their ideas either. Fortunately, in our system there is a range of alternatives to choose from. All kinds of sites on the internet offer help in discovering which party programme best suits your ideas.
For Christians, voting is perhaps an even heavier responsibility than for the non-believing voters. How can we use this responsibility it in such a way that Christian standards and values will determine the course of our country to a greater degree than is currently often the case? For me, a number of questions are therefore decisive for how I make my choice. As a Christian, I want to live in a country that wants to realize a sustainable society, and that cares for our planet and our environment. It is important in this regard that we meet the climate targets that have been agreed upon in Paris and are committed to innovation in the field of energy supply and mobility. That is what real stewardship looks like. It is very essential to me that the country in which I live shall welcome the stranger, who needs asylum, because that is and remains a crucial biblical principle. It is also a very important consideration when casting my vote that the gap between rich and poor, in my own country, but also in the wider world, is narrowed and prosperity is more fairly distributed. And there are a few others points that also weigh heavily for me, such as good rules regarding the beginning and end of life, and other immaterial matters that directly touch on a Christian philosophy of life.
Is there among the 37 parties one party with which I agree in all respects? Unfortunately not, but by asking myself the above questions I have narrowed down the choice to three or four parties with which I, as a Christian, feel reasonably comfortable. At that point, the main question is whether I feel at ease with the women and the men who represent the party. Am I convinced of their qualities? Will they be able to get things done? Do they exude conviction and integrity? Because the campaigns have to be conducted online, it is this time perhaps a little more difficult to make a sound judgement on that element. But the television broadcasts for political parties and the upcoming debates of the party leaders can help us with this.
In the coming weeks I will continue to critically follow the media, but by now I have actually made up my mind and there is not much chance that I will change it before March 17!