Wageningen municipality council has nominated Floor Vermeulen for the vacancy of mayor. The 36 year old VVD politician is currently deputy in South-Holland. Now you may wonder what does someone from the other side of the country and member of a liberal party do in this democrat stronghold? The last few councils have been dominated by liberal-democrats ‘D66’, the greens ‘GroenLinks’ and the Wageningen Cityparty. Floor was picked out of 47 candidates, interestingly both the liberal VVD party and D66 delivered 12 applicants.
Mayors in the Netherlands are not elected, and they do not necessarily represent the political parties dominant within the municipality. In fact, the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and current member of the fallen cabinet, has to accept the candidate. Mayors are chair of the council and have the main task to supervise, represent and guide. Except for public order and safety, the mayor is in charge of the police and firefighters. Having a different political affiliation than the council is meant to be more neutral when keeping an eye on the work being done.
The profile sketch that came with the vacancy described a person that can connect with the citizens, while bringing together the worlds of science and ordinary folk. In a time where an increasing amount of the population doesn’t feel represented by our political system and defers to far-right voting, taking on a member of the recently much criticized liberal party, seems off. Will someone who is from the unknown town of Boskoop and has no connection with Wageningen be the informal bridge builder that our city is looking for? Guess time will tell.