Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Labor wins local elections in Tilburg

Posted by butalidnl on 4 March 2010

They won! The PvdA (Partij van de Arbeid, Labor Party) won in the municipal elections held on 3 March in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Tilburg? Well, Tilburg is the sixth largest city in the Netherlands, and holds the distinction of being the city where a Filipina, Maya Butalid has served in its city council. Maya Butalid did not run this time around, having already served two terms in the city council, because she says she wants  others to have their chance.

The PvdA won 11 of the 45 seats available, or 22 percent. This is the same number of seats as they hold at present, making them the single biggest party in the council. This means that the PvdA will be the party that will lead talks at forming a coalition to run Tilburg, and most likely be part of the coalition itself.

PvdA’s victory in Tilburg is even more extraordinary given that the PvdA lost seats in most of the country. In most municipalities, PvdA lost seats – which contrasts to the extremely high number of seats they won 4 years ago. PvdA-Tilburg increased its seats to 11 from 7 in the last elections, going with the national trend. And when the trend went against them, they surprised everybody by retaining their seats.

This all goes to show that the Tilburg PvdA’s  victory can be attributed to their local performance.  There is a solid base of PvdA voters which will not be swayed by national trends or issues.  Maya Butalid, who held the party’s portfolios on Poverty Reduction and Integration in the council, says that their party enjoys the solid support of the poor and immigrants, who look at them as the party that advances their interests. No amount of political controversy could shake this support. And Tilburg has had its share of controversy: with a failed attempt to set up a shopping mall, with the resignation of the mayor, as well as the resignation of a “wethouder” (one of the 7 people who run the city on a daily basis).

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