Most active voter mobilisation in Osdorp and De Baarsjes
17 January 2006 – There is considerable
variation in the effort districts make to make people vote in the
municipal and district elections on 7 March. Osdorp and De Baarsjes
stand out, a study of News from Amsterdam shows. The turnout level
can have important consequences for municipal policy.
Osdorp has the largest budget for voter mobilisation, that is 62,000
euro. In other districts this varies from 10,000 to 45,000 euro,
while some have no budget at all. Collectively, they plan to spend
300,000 euro (see table
Osdorp will spend the money on promotion teams that will hand out
flyers and gadgets in shopping centres. Also, an election event
will be organised at the night of the election in the Meervaart.
In collaboration with VMBO-schools, courses will be organised for
The De Baarsjes district distinguishes itself by the intensive
way in which community organisations will be involved in voter mobilisation.
The district has visited about twenty organisations in order to
hear what they need to mobilise voters. It also visited neighbourhood
meetings, and it sent out letters to four hundred active residents.
TEXT MESSAGE SERVICE
About half of the De Baarsjes budget is reserved for initiatives
of volunteer organisations, which receive five hundred euro per
activity they organise. Organisations of immigrants, women, youth
and the elderly will participate in this arrangement. The district
also works with providers of language courses and with an elementary
Slotervaart and Zuidoost are most ambitious: they want to try to
raise turnout by ten percentage point relative to four years ago.
Slotervaart at least aims to equal turnout in Zuideramstel, traditionally
the district where most people vote. De Baarsjes aims at an increase
of five percentage points, Oud-West probably three percentage points.
The other districts only want to improve turnout, or have stated
no objective at all.
The Zuidoost district focuses on the young, who are invited to
make suggestions through a website. Oud-West is to organise a cultural
festival reminiscent of the Uitmarkt, and is considering targeting
the young with a text message service. Geuzenveld will use the former
resident and now tv-personality Henk Spaan. Zuideramstel (photo)
will organise chat sessions with council members and a public accountability
Apart from voter mobilisation, several districts are organising
courses to promote political participation among residents. In De
Baarsjes the slogan ‘change your neighbourhood and start today’
is used. Participants will meet council members, the clerk and an
activist, and they will submit a ‘citizens’ initiative’
that will be discussed by the district council.
This year, Amsterdam is to vote by use of a voting machine instead
of the red pencil for the first time. In most districts, residents
will be offered the opportunity to practice on the voting machine.
Many districts further will offer their residents the help of a
computer programme which suggests which political party best suits
the policy preferences entered into the programme (the ‘stemwijzer’).
The municipality will publish an election newspaper in collaboration
with the districts. It further provides information on the voting
machine and may organise specific activities focussing on the young.
At the municipal level, no objective has been set regarding turnout
For comparison, the The Hague municipality plans to spend 250,000
euro on a campaign targeting, among others, young people and which
will involve dj’s and clubs. The municipality further hopes
to attract more voters by offering them the opportunity to choose
which polling station to use.
Rotterdam will announce which activities will take place by the
end of January. In any case, young film makers will be asked to
make animation or promotional films. In the past, Rotterdam has
organised successful campaigns to raise turnout among immigrants.
Practical experience learns that an effective campaign may raise
turnout by ten percentage points or more. This requires and intensive
and targeted campaign, in which citizens are personally invited
to vote on a large scale. Good practical information and opportunities
to practice on a voting machine can further increase the effectiveness.
Turnout tends to be lowest in neighbourhoods where many people
with low incomes and low education live. If these people do not
vote, the government can afford not to take their interests into
Indeed, international studies found that low turnout is related
to governments that mainly serve the interests of the richer inhabitants.
With lower turnout, taxes tend to be lower, as well as investments
in social policies.
Data on voter mobilisation in Amsterdam can be found here