The elections for parliament in The Netherlands are coming up! On March 15,16 and 17 2021 Dutch people can vote. It’s a big deal since a lot needs to change. Policy needs to change. We face inequality, the climate crisis, a pandemic and more. But just as important: the people in parliament need to change as well. Not as in behavioral change, no, we need to literally change the people who are in parliament. It’s time for different people. I am not actually going to tell you for which party you need to vote. I would never. Everybody needs to make up their own choice. But I am going to tell you who you need to vote for in that specific party you’re voting for. I am going to tell you: how do you vote as an intersectional feminist?
Politics are about beliefs and the division of resources. That’s a part I am not going to touch today. Vote for whichever party you want, of course everybody is free to do that. If everybody votes for their beliefs then The Netherlands is represented just how we want it. Right? Well, no. First of all, this isn’t the case because it has never happened that 100% of our population votes. There are always people who don’t. That’s a shame and so 100% representation of what we want is never the case. And so, vote if you are able to!
But let’s hypothetically say that 100% of the people vote. Even then the representation of the people in The Netherlands is still not 100% correct. Why? Because we need the same people in parliament as in society. Right now, we don’t have a correct representation. There are certain groups in society which are left out. I am talking about parliament and those numbers today because those elections are coming up. But representation is not only missing in parliament, it’s also missing in the EU parliament and in local government. Representation is incorrect in politics almost everywhere.
Women and Non Binary People
Let’s first begin with women and non-binary people. Right now, 35% of people in parliament are woman and 65% are men. That would be okay if our society looked like that too. But that’s not the case. According to CBS, The Netherlands consists of about 49% men and 51% woman (source). This is obviously not correct since we do not only have people who identify as men or women in The Netherlands. But this example shows that the numbers in parliament are far off. According to Mark Hommes about 6% of the population identifies as non-binary (source). If representation in parliament was correct we’d have anout 6% non-binary people, 48% woman and 46% men in parliament. The same numbers as in society. And even with these numbers I’m sure we would not cover everyone, there are more genders. But the point is, the numbers in parliament do not represent society.
People of Color, Migration and Disabled People
If we have that basis of gender correct, we’re obviously not there yet. There’s more to people than just gender. The color of their skin for example, their migratory background or whether they are abled by society or disabled by society. Right now, there are no black people in our parliament. There are no brown people in parliament either. It’s mostly white people in parliament. I don’t need to tell you that this is not the right representation, right? I don’t know the numbers, but we need the same amount of people of color in parliament as in society. The same goes with migratory background. If a certain percentage of people in The Netherlands have migrated from Turkey or from Japan, these people need to represented in parliament in the same ratio as in society. 2 million people in The Netherlands are disabled in a way (source). I don’t know about you, but I don’t see them in parliament. I haven’t seen blind people there, deaf people, people who use a wheelchair. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think the ration is right yet.
Age and More
The list goes on. What about age? The average age in parliament is 48 (source), the average age in the Netherlands is 41 (source). We need more young people in parliament (I bet we’d do better in combating the climate crisis). All ages above 18 should be represented, old and young. I would guess there are even more flaws in representation. By now, I think you get my point. We need a representation of society in parliament. But how?
This is the tricky part. To name an example: a lot of people actually do want more women in parliament. They also vote for a woman, but in the wrong way. Most people who vote for a woman vote for the first woman on the list of a specific party. However, that woman is almost certain of a place in parliament already when the party gets enough votes. We need to vote for the women who are lower on the lists. An example: it is predicted that a party gets 6 seats in parliament. They have 5 men on the list and 1 woman. If everybody votes for that woman nothing will change. Let’s say she is number 2 on the list. She is assured of her place. But because the next three people (number 3, 4 and 5) are men, those will get a seat too. If you vote for that woman in 2nd place, nothing will change in the order or the list. What we need to do is move woman up! There are too little women in most top 10 lists of parties in The Netherlands and that’s what we need to change. Back to the example: if you want to change something, don’t vote for the first woman on the list. Vote for the 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th woman. They will then move up and the men on place 3, 4, 5 and 6 will move down. Most people don’t know this but we need to vote more strategicly. And of course the same goes for all minorities on the list. Vote for the 7th black person on the list or the 7th person who is disabled. The key is to move them up and the white, abled men down (we have enough of them already).
Research and Views
Politics is about representation. We can’t expect white, abled men to represent everybody. They simply can’t. An example: most abled people don’t think about things disabled people would think about. If there’s a new policy on the table for just about anything. An example within the CIVID-19-crisis: parliament approved that entrepreneurs would enlarge their terraces so that they would have more room for people to sit on 1,5 meters distance. This would mean that the terraces reached the sidewalks. No problem for abled people, they can just walk through it or around it somehow. But what about a disabled person who uses a wheelchair? They would probably know that this approval would lead to problems for people who use a wheelchair. If we give them a voice in parliament by voting for them, more people will be represented. I think one of the reasons why birth control is not free in The Netherlands is because most people who make the policies are unable to get pregnant. They don’t need to buy it (in most cases), they don’t get pregnant. Of course the representation of society in parliament can never be 100% accurate. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do better. As a matter of fact, we need to do better. A lot! Representation, representation, representation.
We can do this! Let’s make society more democratic by voting better. For more information about voting for minorities in Dutch: check the website of StemOpEenVrouw.