Tuesday

17th Oct 2017

Dutch MP candidates promise not to do their job

  • There is a lot to choose from in the Dutch elections, but still some people may not feel comfortable with any party (Photo: Peter Teffer)

When you pass Peter Plasman's law firm in the Dutch capital Amsterdam, you would not know that he is standing for election on 15 March.

There are no posters on the office's windows, or political slogans.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Niet Stemmers refers to the promise that its MPs will never vote (Photo: Peter Teffer)

That's because Plasman promises to be a different kind of member of the lower house of the Dutch parliament: one who never shows up.

“Many people's first response was: is this a joke?” Plasman told EUobserver on Wednesday (1 March).

But Plasman is serious: if he gets elected, his only promise is that his seat will remain empty and he will never participate in debates or votes on bills.

Plasman said his group, Niet Stemmers (Non-Voters), is not a political party, because it has no programme.

Niet Stemmers was born out of a personal frustration, when Plasman realised there was not a single party he would vote for, but that he had no way of expressing that feeling.

“If you don't vote, or if you vote null, or cast an invalid vote, you still confirm the outcome of what others have decided,” said Plasman.

Since 2008, those who vote null, by not writing anything on the ballot, are counted separately from invalid votes.

17,004 people voted null in the previous lower house election in 2012, some 0.13 percent of the overall vote.

“The null voter goes to the poll to consciously not make a choice,” said Plasman. Someone like that takes the effort to go out and vote.

Null votes are included in the count to determine voter turnout, but the 150 seats are still divided.

Plasman wants to give voters an option to vote for an empty seat, which would serve as a constant reminder to the political parties that not everyone feels represented.

In 2012, 1 in 4 eligible voters did not show up. Plasman hoped that he could convince people, who initially did not want to vote, now to vote for Niet Stemmers.

“This way, your protest becomes visible. We are a collection of people that say: things have to change, but we say it in a reasonably harmless way.”

“What we do could become a movement of people that say: things are not going well in politics, we want to do something about it, but what we don't want to do is join the shouting and cackle,” the lawyer said.

“Everybody seems to agree that something needs to change,” he added.

Polls have not yet shown Niet Stemmers, which has twelve candidates, achieving enough support to pass the threshold, but Plasman said he believed the potential is out there.

“We depend on people who think this is a good idea and help spread the word. That is starting to happen,” he said, noting that the group's website attracted between 1,000 and 2,000 visitors per day.

While Niet Stemmers has produced some flyers and posters, the main forum to spread the word is the social networking website - Facebook.

The exercise is a repeat of Plasman's attempt in 1994, when he stood for elections for the municipal council of Amsterdam with the same idea of promising never to vote on bills.

He received 926 votes.

“That was a huge success, considering that we campaigned for just three days,” he said. There were three locations in the city where they had stuck posters, and it was in those areas where most of the votes came from.

So why not have posters all over the country?

“Because we don't have the means for that. We have nothing. All we have is an idea that we think is very powerful.”

If Plasman is elected, he would go to the lower house just once, to take the oath.

“That will be the first and last time,” he said. “Nobody can force me to sit on that chair.”

Dutch election: EU's most unpredictable vote

Polls suggest that four or five parties will be needed to form a majority after the 15 March vote. The shrunk size of the establishment parties means that smaller parties may play a role of kingmaker.

Czech election stalemate on joining euro

Whilst committed to joining the euro in theory, most Czech parties seem to be stonewalling on 'when' in the run-up to the 20-21 October election - and Andrej Babis, favourite to be prime minister, has ruled it out.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  3. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  4. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  5. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  6. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  7. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  8. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  10. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  11. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  12. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State

Latest News

  1. No sign of Brexit 'speed-up' after May-Juncker dinner
  2. Report: EU defence strategy 'outsourced' to arms industry
  3. EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says
  4. Malta shocked after car bomb kills crusading journalist
  5. Spanish and Catalan leaders continue stand-off
  6. May pleads for more, as EU makes Brexit gesture
  7. EU circles the wagons around Iran deal
  8. 'Think of the patients!' cry would-be EU agency hosts