On wednesday, there was the Dutch Regional elections. As some journalist from the NRC Handelsblat put it, these are more important than they seem, because you actually vote for three reasons with one voice. First, Dutch citizens were voting for the Regional Councils. This was actually the real election. But these give also the results of the First Chamber of the Parliament, based on the results in each Region. So that's actually two votes in one, from a constitutional point of view. But the journalist was making a case (and was proved right) that it was also a kind of referendum for the current brand new coalition. This one is an odd mix of the CDA (Christian Democrat, the party of middle class families, rather right wing), CU (another Christian Democrat one, but more protestant and more centre left) and PvdA (Blair style Labour, but still left wing). It turn out to be reflecting quite exactly the results of the last legislative elections which gave way to this coalition, including the rise of the popular but very left wing SP (Socialist Party).
But what got my attention more than anything else during this process, apart from the total lack of participation, is the discovery that there is no ID check to vote. I mean, theortically, there is one. But a (male) journalist of free newspaper Metro managed to vote no less than five times, including once with the ID of a woman! This means that there is simply no ID check for voters, or at least no serious one. This came of course as a surprise to me, French citizen used to carry a photo ID on me all the time, passport or ID card. But then I realized that Dutch citizens are extremely against the use of personal ID in their life. This is both part of the country free culture and mentality. It is also a result of recent History: when a policeman was asking a citizen for an ID, it was until last year not uncommon to hear te outraged citizen let out an "Ausweis bitte!" to the unfortunate civil servant. German occupation is still vivid in many memories... Until last year only, I wrote, because with the new post 9/11 antiterrorist laws, it is now mandatory to carry an ID at all times, just like in France. But ultimately, this story of multiple votes is saying more about the state of mind in politics in the Netherlands. Nobody checks IDs because nobody believes anyone would actually cheat to vote. That would be so... asocial!