If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


19 MARCH 2017

A Pleasant Day

DELFT - Where I am in Delft is not far at all from Rotterdam. Last weekend, there was a roaring, hollering scene in front of that city's Turkish consulate. Talk had been heating up for the vote this week, but it all boiled over when bad timing, religion and insults were mixed in.

Turkey is having a vote in April about the extent of its president's power and whether a parliamentary system is right for them. By their law, Turks who live outside Turkey may vote in national elections. Turks moved into Europe to work or for a better life, and many have dual nationality. With perhaps 5% of its citizens of Turkish heritage, the Netherlands is considered to have a large number by some, those who prefer no Turks, no Muslims, no anybody not Dutch.


"We had a pleasant Spring day here in the Netherlands for voting. There was plenty of sunshine, and temperatures rose to the mid-teens Celsius, which converts to mid-fifties in Fahrenheit. I did not think of the mid-fifties as warm when I lived in Texas but do now."

She presented her passport to prove she was eligible to vote and the id everyone received in the mail. The clerk checked her off a list, gave her a ballot and she went to a voting booth. A red pencil was attached to the side which she used to mark her choice. I laughed hearing about the red pencil on a cord: so that people do not steal it, as a souvenir? She did not know, but she always locks her bike as she goes about shopping.

It is tempting to think more about the coming elections in France and Germany, the big ones. Nah. The weather is calling me out of my snug winter burrow, and my vitamin D is low. Instead of reading the US news with my coffee each day, perhaps I will take a moment with the garden which I have neglected.

For some reason, news reports link Dutch voting to the voting in the US last year. Populism is the favorite word used to describe Us-First politics. Had the Dutch voted for nationalism, it signaled disaster for Europe, so said the news.

For a long time, the Netherlands was governed by coalitions of the same large parties. Folks are nervous here about things that matter most to the Dutch; voter turnout was about 80%: Socialists down, Green Left up.

Mr. Rutte will lead the new parliament, but the coalition will alter. That will take a while to fully hammer into shape with 'wheeling and dealing' aplenty from all sides. But that is how democracy works: you are heard but have to live together.

I asked my partner how voting is done here, and she explained it to me. She decided over the last few days which way she would vote, even to consulting with family. Early Wednesday, she went to her local voting place, papers in hand.

I listened to an American political talk show during which a woman said the US is about shared beliefs on the kind of people we are; it is not based on any shared bloodlines. There is the same discussion here; Dutch voted to keep their minds open.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen