The elections; such an enormous source of choice overload - kind of like having to pick your highschool or your college program, only the elections happen every four years and are slightly more impactful. After a month of election campaigns I am still a swing voter, but not by choice.
I tried my very best to get informed: before the elections I made a to-do list of all relevant debates, reports and stemwijzers. In addition, I even took out a subscription for the Volkskrant (I’m too Dutch to let a deal like four weeks worth of newspaper for four euros pass me by). But after two weeks the newspaper were all in a half-read stack and very little items were actually crossed of my to-do list.
Internally, I must’ve realized that all those stemwijzers and debates won’t help me make a choice. Stemwijzers are great to make a rough choice between left- and right-wing, but basing my choice on ‘94 percent this left-leaning party’ versus ‘89 percent that other left-leaning party’ felt fairly useless. The same goes for the debates: it only becomes interesting for the voter if you’re putting ideologically similar parties up against each other (who the hell can’t decide between Hoekstra or Klaver?) Those matchups were few and far between, except for maybe Ploumen and Kaag on Pauw.
Many other practical concerns nag at me. Are the parties I am considering even going to become part of the next cabinet? If so, are they actually going to make good on their promises? There’s a lot of compromise in Dutch politics.
Another question is whether I will snub parties on their past behaviors. A salient example for us (ex)-students: D66, the ‘education party’, voted in favor of repealing the basisbeurs in 2015, promised that all of the saved money would be invested back into education, supplied the minister of Education for Rutte III and then completely failed to deliver on this promise. Something that might piss you off.
It will be a massive relief when this quadrennial ritual is done and we as citizens can go back to our complaining about politics under our breath. Then we are once again free to complain about having too little a say in matters, instead of stressing out because of the say we’re actually given.