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Geerten Boogaard: 'emotion goes hand in hand with local democracy'

On Thursday evening, three local councillors from the ONS.Vlaardingen party walked out of a council meeting during a vote on a no-confidence motion. One councillor even went home after the vote out of dissatisfaction with the proceedings. The no-confidence motion against Vlaardingen's municipal executive had been tabled in response to cost overruns during the reconstruction of local sports accommodation.

No one can force a councillor to stay in the municipal chamber, argues Geerten Boogaard, professor by special appointment, in the chair local government, at Leiden University. ‘If you walk out of the chamber before or during a vote, you don't want to cast your vote for some reason,’ Boogaard argues. ‘Elected people’s representatives are not allowed to cast a blank vote, so the only way to avoid voting is to get up and leave.’ Staying to vote is not something that can be enforced, says Boogaard. ‘But such behaviour is something that voters will judge.’

Emotion goes hand in hand with local democracy. ‘Politics is also theatre. It can be intense, but the issues are real. The next day, it’s back to business. People walk out of meetings in the corporate sector too’ says Boogaard on regional news site PZC.

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