A democratic experiment with theme voting for the municipality of The Hague. At Democracy Agency we have been working hard on this, in recent months. The city of The Hague was the first municipality in The Netherlands to start such a trial. This involved online voting on topics, instead of candidates from political parties. ‘With the historically low turnout for the municipal elections, the question arises again whether there are other forms of democracy in which more citizens feel involved’, says medium Binnenlands Bestuur about this experiment.
Residents of the three districts of The Hague, could participate in theme voting from 17 to 31 March 2022. By voting for a theme, they could indicate what they consider important for the neighborhood and the city.
Theme voting in The Hague is a trial to give residents more influence on the plans for the city. The city council have received the results. They can use the input to make plans for the city for the next four years (the coalition agreement).
The themes that the residents who participated in the trial found most important: Nature & Greenery and a Clean Neighborhood. The topics Road Safety, Homes for Starters and the Design of a Safe Neighborhood also score high.
15 theme questions
Immediately after the elections for the city council (March 14 – 16), the residents of 3 different neighborhoods in The Hague received an invitation to participate in the experiment in which residents could not vote for a list, party or candidate, but were able to answer questions relating to 15 theme questions. The themes are based on the coalition agreement, polls and themes from the electoral compass and the voting guide.
The letter of invitation to residents contained a login code to vote online, but residents could also participate ‘on paper’ at various locations in the district. There were technical problems on the first day, so the first 1,000 people who immediately entered their preferences had to be asked to do it again. A third of have done this. In total, nearly 3,000 residents, or 10.3% of those invited, took part in the trial.
The municipality of The Hague would like to know whether theme voting is a good way to give residents more influence. That is why a trial was first carried out in three districts. The municipality uses the results of the trial to learn from. We are setting up an extensive evaluation. This is done with a scientific researcher. After this, it will be evaluated together with the municipal council whether the test can be repeated.
The results of the theme voting test can be found at www.themadoelen.denhaag.nl (in Dutch)
Would you also like to get started with a democratic experiment such as theme voting? Discuss the possibilities.
There was a lot of media attention for the theme voting trial in the city of The Hague, this is an overview:
21-04-2022 Den Haag FM https://cdn.denhaagfm.nl/luisteren/?src=fm&t%5Byear%5D=2022&t%5Bmonth%5D=4&t%5Bday%5D=21&t%5Bhour%5D=8 (vanaf minuut 9)
15-04-2022 https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2022/04/15/eindeloze-discussie-over-referendum-helpt-democratie-niet-a4113669 (themastemmen in Den Haag wordt genoemd)