Whether you go to vote in Eindhoven depends mainly on where you live. In Doornakkers, not even one in five residents voted in the last municipal elections. In De Laak, many people went to the polling station. The turnout gap between these two neighborhoods: no less than 40%.
Going to the voting booth is not popular in Eindhoven. In previous municipal elections in 2018, only 46% of eligible voters voted. The national average is 55%. Whether it’s better this time remains to be seen.
For years, the municipality has been trying to encourage its residents to fill out the ballot. This year, social media campaigns and mobile ballot boxes, among others, are expected to drive higher turnout. But what matters most is the neighborhood where people live.
The De Laak district near the city center, for example, is well above the other districts of Eindhoven. In the municipal elections of 2018, 57.5% of the inhabitants went to vote here, even a little more than the national average. It’s about three thousand people. In the Rosebud district, the participation rate was 52%. This district, like De Laak, is located near the center. Here is a relatively young and highly educated population with an above average income. In De Laak and Rozenknopje live an average of 40-50% highly qualified people.
Low participation rate
This contrasts sharply with the 18% turnout in Dommelbeemd, a district of some 13,000 people in northeast Woensel. Only about 2,300 people went to vote there. Relatively more elderly people and people with a low or medium level of education live in Dommelbeemd. In the Doornakkers district of Tongelre, the situation is the same: not even one in five residents with the right to vote bothered to go to the polling station.
Level of education determines participation
Data from Buurtkijker Eindhoven show that voter turnout is related to the level of education in a district. This is actually the case everywhere in the Netherlands. “The more educated you are, the more often you will vote,” says Mariken van der Velden, who grew up in Eindhoven and is now a political scientist at VU University in Amsterdam. In general, highly educated people are more interested in politics than less educated people. They also feel better represented by politicians.
In Eindhoven, income inequality also seems to influence turnout. According to Van der Velden, this is also related to the level of education. “In neighborhoods where many more educated people live, income inequality is often high. As the most educated most often go to the polls, it is therefore the level of education that is decisive, and not income inequality.
It could also be that residents who are confronted with income inequality on a daily basis feel the need to change something more than residents who are less exposed to it. Van der Velden thinks that could possibly play a small role. Maybe people in neighborhoods with a lot of income inequality are more motivated to vote.
It is not known if the municipality takes into account the differences in participation between neighborhoods in its campaign.
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta. She also gives online BURGER Classes.