Since I was a wee teenage girl with a writing ambition, my father has been bugging me to become a politics journalist. I sincerely hope that he’ll be satisfied when he realises this blogpost is happening, since the day is finally here – it is Election Day, and I can no longer keep my mouth shut about what has been happening.
I probably don’t need to tell you that it feels like the world is up in flames at the moment. In fact, both Brexit and the Trump presidency have made it alarmingly clear that there’s a ripple going through all of us right now, shaking us awake and making us realise that we can’t just stand by, we have to actively do something to make sure that our planet does not self-destruct one way or another. Of course, Trump and Brexit were huge on an international scale because of the impact both countries have in our modern society. However, what you might not know, is that today is the Dutch election day specifically and something similar is happening in this tiny country as well.
The populist movement has been gaining momentum steadily, and the same thing has been happening in the Netherlands. Hate against refugees and islamophobia in general have been more prominent than I would like to see in a country that prides itself on its tolerance and free spirit, and the result is that Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV) has been getting bigger and bigger, contradicting the name of his party by insisting that we should get rid of muslims and close mosques. He’s been labelled the mini Trump of the Lowlands – which should tell you enough. Many people seem to agree with him lately, discouraged and scared by recent developments and terrorist attacks, taking it out on the regular muslims around us.
It worries me. What also worries me is the fact that I see people who don’t vote at all because of a lack of belief in the system, when what we vote on election day is more important than it ever has been since the only thing that will stop Wilders and his ideas is an opposition. We need to speak out, stand as one, show that we will not let this fly by with no resistance. Not only do I passionately disagree on the refugee idea, I wake up in a cold sweat every night because of the future of our planet and how climate change is affecting us. At 3 am, articles about our glaciers melting, animals going extinct one by one and natural disasters swim before my eyes and drive me into a panic, rendering me unable to sleep. I wish I was exaggerating and I wish it didn’t plague me as much as it does, but it is as real as the threat of us losing the planet we are exploiting. We aren’t taking action quick enough, and our current biggest parties definitely aren’t paying enough attention to the problem, let alone taking precautions for what we could do.
The good news is that there are parties that do take it seriously and are opting for radical changes. The better news is that these parties vehemently disagree with Wilders, stand for diversity, LGTBQ protection and have lots of other things to offer that give me hope for our future. Every day I wake up scared for the world that we live in, and I have come to realise more than ever that there needs to be an opposition, that there needs to be a voice, and that voice begins with us. Nothing will change if we don’t strive for our goals, idealistic or not. You can’t complain about politics and our government if you haven’t tried to change it at all, at the very least by voting.
If you’re not Dutch, which I realise is a very big chance, remember this for your own election day, and send us good vibes that it will end well. But if you are Dutch and don’t know what to vote for because of too many parties and too many options, please just pick a topic that you’re passionate about (in my case, acceptance of all nationalities/religions and climate change are top of the list) and stick to the party that agrees with you the most and actually attempts to make a change. If that doesn’t help you, try a tool that helps you figure out which party fits you best, such as KiesKompas or Stemwijzer (though it’s always important to think critically for yourself!). You’ll never find a party that you agree with 100%, but you can find one that strives for a goal you do as well. I found one. So can you.
I’ll vote today and I sincerely hope that most of this country does it with me. It’s more important than ever. Slight sidenote: I will also be voting for a woman, since politics are not only an affair for men and our government needs a better representation of our society. Women take up half of this earth. How can we possibly try to govern and speak for an entire country if that country’s population is not represented well?
As I said before I’m worried, very much so. However, I am also hopeful. And that, along with voting on Election Day and taking a stand, is the best we can do.