ARNHEM – An equal number of men and women, of all sexualities, a transgender woman and people with an immigrant background. That’s what the advisory candidate list of Dutch political party D66 looks like for the European elections. A diverse list, each one of the candidates with their own story. The social liberal party presents a list that is clearly more diverse than their liberal opponents like VVD, and is on about the same level of equal representation as their social democrat opponent PvdA.
D66 kicks off their candidate presentation tour around the Netherlands in Arnhem on January 10th. To determine their final list of candidates that the Dutch population choose from during the European elections in May, an advisory list has been made that the D66 members can vote on. On this list are 23 candidates, who are touring the Netherlands to win the hearts of their party members and to obtain a wanted spot on the final list of D66 politicians running for a spot in the European Parliament.
19 out of the 23 candidates are present in Arnhem and all of them get the same chance to present themselves. One minute to be exact (which is strictly clocked by a young man and his bell, which he won’t stop ringing if you don’t stop talking after your minute is over). In these 19 minutes in total, the standpoints of the D66 candidates become clear: make the EU more transparent, give the power back to the people, protect the environment and protect the citizens on the internet.
“To make the EU more transparent is important to keep talking to people,” says Raquel García Hermida-van der Walle. Originally from Spain, she came to the Netherlands to study and stayed for love.
Talking was done during the evening. Not just by the candidates on stage, but also afterwards when they mingled with the audience. The people attending this evening are mostly members of the D66 party but are not all old white men as nowadays could be expected from a party constituency. Although most of them were male and white, there were also a lot of younger people with an interest in politics attending.
García has sculpted a very clear image for herself. “I work in Brussels and Strasbourg. I travel a lot. But I always come back to Gorredijk, the town I live in, in the Dutch province of Friesland. I love to go to the pub and simply talk to people there.” She wants a ‘closer Europe’ she says. Where the people are more involved. “I see that when I’m in the pub. People don’t see what the EU has brought them. Then I tell them that we wouldn’t be having this conversation if it weren’t for the EU. I wouldn’t have been able to study, work and stay here so easily.”
The members of D66 have until January 21st to vote on this advisory list. After that, the definitive selection of D66 politicians running for European Parliament will be announced.
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