Today, March 15, the Netherlands is voting in the provincial council and water authority elections.
The Provincial Council is tasked with providing checks and balances on the Provincial government. This concerns, among other topics, spatial planning, transport, and environmental and health measures. Each of these areas has devolved into some form of crisis (housing crisis, unaffordable public transport, nitrogen crisis), due to the past decades of neoliberal mishandling.
There is no MERA25 in the Netherlands to vote for yet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a position regarding how the Provinces should be run. We have the following four demands, three for the Provinces and one specifically for the Water boards, based on the European DiEM25 Manifesto and the Manifesto for MERA25 in the Netherlands.
Invest in public transport, not in asphalt
Over the last decades, a significant portion of investment in transport in the Netherlands has gone to the widening of highways. Often, this comes at the cost of natural environments, with the recent example of plans to cut down trees to widen the A27. As per our national Manifesto, DiEM25 in the Netherlands believes investing in effective and free public transport is an indispensable part of an integrated transit system that can be a viable alternative to fossil-fuel-reliant cars and congested roads.
For years, it has been VVD policy to sell off social housing stock to (foreign) private investors. As a consequence, hundreds of thousands of people have become dependent on private landlords, who squeeze as much money out of their tenants as possible. Instead, we should invest in our public housing stock, providing affordable housing for the many.
Make sustainable farming viable for smallholders around the country
The media in the Netherlands tries to paint farmers as a monolith, from small farmers to giant agro corporations, and pits them against climate change mitigation efforts. This includes the ‘nitrogen crisis’. DiEM25 believes it is possible to achieve a just green transition, a path towards a sustainable future without leaving anyone (including small farmers) behind. Our Green New Deal for Europe (GNDE) details how this could be funded within the scope of the current European Union institutions.
Abolish guaranteed seats on Water boards
The Water boards are local institutions tasked with the management of water in the Netherlands. However, there is a glaring democratic deficit in the form of so-called ‘guaranteed seats’. These are reserved for the representation of special interests, including commercial agriculture. What we need instead is for all the Water boards’ decision-making – as well as parliament, senate, municipality – to take place under the citizens’ scrutiny, through regional assemblies, as per DiEM25’s Manifesto!
It is crucial to break with the parties who have failed to establish the necessary pathways to a just green transition. Mark Rutte’s Liberal Democrat Party (VVD), which has been in power for over a decade and is well represented in local government, is especially in dire need of replacement. The Netherlands deserves available housing, affordable public transport, and safe and sustainable living conditions. To achieve this, it needs to get rid of politicians who oppose meeting the needs of the many, to benefit the interests of the few.
Let’s seize the opportunity to shift the scales towards a path of solidarity and democracy!
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