“You can ask Dutch people anything, except their salary and politics”
That was a friendly advice my colleague gave me when we were discussing Dutch people.
Just 2 days ago, there were national elections in Netherlands. And the day seemed to be as normal as any other day. Nobody discussing anything, nobody coming late or leaving early for voting, nobody busy in their mobiles or checking news.
Having witnessed 2014 elections in India, this was totally unexpected for me. I wouldn’t have known there are elections unless one of the colleagues would have told me so. I was little apprehensive to inquire more because of that friendly advice I had received. So I started with some general questions.
The Dutch go for election after every 4 years. They don’t have a leave or a half day leave for voting. This is because the voting is open for long time, from 8 in the morning to 9 in the evening! And there are many places where they can vote. Considering the very small population they have, I think it should be very comforting.
They still use paper ballot. While they are so technically advanced in every other thing, they don’t seem to trust technology when it comes to EVMs. In last election they did try to bring the machines but immediately gave up for the next one.
Most of the campaigning happens online. See, they don’t think that they won’t make an impact unless they make a public appearance. However, they participate in debates on TV channels. They also circulate pamphlets, but only in the crowded places. I didn’t get a single of those.
The counting begins immediately after 9 pm and the first result is declared in 5 minutes! That too without machines!! By the time I was in office next day, the results were already out! Ha! And still nobody discussed anything about it!
It is kind of exactly opposite of what happens in India.
We have heated discussions about politics and some may even choose to stay away from their close friends who disagree with them. And after 3 years of election, we still continue to have same arguments. When my friends’ party (it means the party that he supported) won in national elections, they had small celebration and they sent me photos to tease. In the next state election, when my party (obviously, the party that I supported) won, I too celebrated by cutting a cake!
Campaigning happens both online and in public. But we need both types to appeal different genre of people. There are rallies held in open public areas,(but never a debate in public) prime minister candidates never face each other in public. The public attendance in these rallies is used as a major to guess the leader’s popularity.
We use EVMs. We trust machines more than people 😛 In spite of using machines, there are ways in which we can cheat. So many names go missing from the voters list every time. So many names appear. I don’t know details, but I think Dutch elections are more fare than Indian elections. And considering our population, it is not feasible that we don’t go for paper and pen elections. But it still take some time to count the votes.
I will do like to mention here that, although many things here support the advice I got, one of my another colleagues actually revealed me who he was going to vote for! And he is also source of most of the information that he shared. In India, on the contrary, we might be shouting from the rooftops who we support, yet, when someone asks us on the voting day “Who did you vote for?” we will always reply, “Sorry, we shouldn’t reveal that.”