Jade van der Linden. Foto | Bart van Overbeeke

"I am really worried about the future"

Jade van der Linden, being 22 years of age, might become the youngest member of the provincial council after the provincial elections. The politically involved TU/e student Industrial Engineering and Management ("it is better to try and get something done than to complain about what goes wrong") has a good chance of being elected as she’s number three on the list for GroenLinks. “I hope there will be a high turnout. People do not realize how crucial the role of the province is."

by
photo Bart van Overbeeke

As the student turns up in Atlas dressed in a nice red blouse, you would rather have associations with SP or PvdA (two left wing parties). In the queue for a cup of coffee, she immediately makes clear what is so important to her; namely that people will go and vote this Wednesday. Of course it’s nice to see the vote go to ‘her’ party, but she wants to make clear that far more important decisions are made at the provincial level than many realize. The student only became aware of this herself when she became active for GroenLinks in her hometown of Oss. She has been a citizen there for a year now.

“You may have great plans for sustainable energy at the local level; the province has the resources and issues the permits. Municipalities can of course come up with plans, and they are listened to carefully, but the role of the province is crucial. Only few students know that the province decides on bus transport, for example."

Bus transportation

And with those two subjects the enthusiastic politician immediately sets the tone for her key points, it appears later in the conversation. “Public transport should be available in every municipality, no matter how small. Everyone must be able to travel from A to B in an affordable way, and as a student you must also be able to continue living at home," she argues. The energy transition is also important to Jade. “I am seriously concerned about the state of the province when I retire in about fifty years. We have to keep water, soil and air clean and shift towards greener energy and less energy consumption. We have a lot of knowledge about this subject in Eindhoven, so let's use it.”

Campaigning now consumes much of her time. That means attending debates, flyering and going from door-to-door. "Yes, sometimes I get negative reactions, that’s a given, but in general people like to talk about what concerns them," says Jade. "Our goal is not to convince them, we mainly want to hear what's going on."

The phone call in November when she was told that she was the third on the list, was quite a surprise. "I was running for the top 5, but I did not expect that I would come in immediately."

Future

If her party receives enough votes, she would be one of the youngest - if not the very youngest - member in the provincial council. And although it is "certainly not a stronghold of older, white men," according to Jade, she would like to see more young people in an eligible place. "They are sometimes more aware and look further ahead in the future."

Van der Linden became interested in politics in high school, especially “left-wing politics” and "sustainability" topics, but a little later that shifted to specifically GroenLinks. Her getting to know members of GroenLinks’ youth branch DWARS during the Intro ensured that she became actively involved. “You don't achieve much by nagging about what goes wrong. I think you should also try to get things done."

Whether it’s easy to combine with her studies? “Fortunately, planning is one of my strengths. During this time I deliberately chose to follow two instead of three courses.” Jade expects to be able to start the master Innovation Management after the summer.

Update: GroenLinks Brabant won five seats during the Provincial Elections. Jade also won as many as 6473 preference votes, for which she was allocated a seat.

 

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