The turnout for the provincial elections and for the water boards is structurally lower than for municipal and national elections. A large proportion of voters are not interested in the Provincial Council at all, according to previous research, let alone the water boards.
In North Brabant, the turnout was 52.4 percent in 2019, significantly lower than Utrecht (60.4 percent), the province with the highest turnout. “In general, turnout in Brabant, but also in Limburg, is still a few percent lower than nationally,” says political scientist Hans Vollaard of Utrecht University. It is to be expected that this will now be the case again.
“Some speak of the North Brabant effect, citing the time of the Republic, and say that people in that region have felt like second-class citizens ever since. But you can say that they have been in North Brabant for quite some time now. blowing a game, so you can ask yourself whether that is the story,” says Vollaard. “It is also highly questionable whether it is really due to political distrust among voters in North Brabant.”
Tilburger Wim Mouthaan explains why he is not voting this year either:
“Non-voters are by no means always drop-outs,” Vollaard continues. “You also have people who say: I’m actually quite satisfied with how things are going, that’s why I’m not voting. Or people who don’t vote for practical reasons; who want to, but can’t for a while.”
According to the political scientist, there are mainly people for whom the province and water board are unfamiliar, and people who experience little influence from these administrative levels. “With the low level of interest in the province and water board, turnout remains low. And as long as people don’t know what role the province and water board play in important subjects such as climate, energy and housing, that turnout will also remain low.”
Practical training or migration background
According to Vollaard, an important explanation is that in regions such as North Brabant there are more groups that are less inclined to vote. “That will be the main reason. Think of young people and people with practical training or a migration background.”
A problem that can arise from a low turnout, according to Vollaard, is that precisely these groups are heard less, and also feel that way, after which they do become more suspicious. “The people who do vote are on average different from people who do not vote. The result is that certain voices in society will be heard better in the province than others.”
For this reason, Vollaard also advises provinces – and parties – not to lose sight of non-voters after the elections. “That also requires an active interpretation of the office of parliament, to show: I will also stand up for you and this is how.”
Brabant now has experience with the continuous demonstration of the influence of the Provincial Council, says Hanneke van Dreumel, the election project leader at the province. “That has been a learning point from previous elections. We used to campaign for the elections and then it was fairly quiet for the rest of the time. After the previous elections, we decided that you must continuously communicate what the province is doing.”
The province of Brabant has a total of around 320,000 euros available for the entire organization of the elections and the surrounding campaign. That money is used for logistics and to inform people from Brabant about the elections, in order to get them to the polls.
This is done, among other things, with the Brabant Kiest campaign, voting aids, a growing number of debates between candidates and a lot of attention on social media channels. And with a special youth campaign, which reaches young people on their most used channels. “We are really also concerned about the first-time voter. Research shows that they continue to vote if you get them to go to the polls for the first time.”
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