Guidance from unemployment to work, including for former aldermen

Aldermen drop out en masse
Article by Hans Bekkers and Henk Bouwmans from Binnenlands Bestuur (14-01-2021)

In 2020, 231 aldermen temporarily or permanently left or fell from the College of Mayor and Aldermen. Most (109) came from a political breach of trust between the wheels.

Research by The College Table commissioned by Binnenlands Bestuur shows that this is the first time that more than 100 aldermen have been politically toppled two years in a row. While there are still 14 months to go, the beginning of the current college term for aldermen is already the blackest since 2002.

Disrupted relationships

The main explanation for the continued high number of falling aldermen is politically disturbed relations and fractures in the coalition. A combination of factors plays a role in this: the dire financial situation, especially due to high healthcare and social domain costs, forcing municipalities to make cuts. In addition, the large number of groups in the City Council: ten or more is no exception. And the lack of collaborative and binding ability to pull together in a fragmented political landscape.
In 2020, the coalition collapsed as a result of a breach of trust in 23 municipalities and then changed political composition. It was striking that in about six municipalities (Bergen op Zoom, Geertruidenberg, Hoogeveen, Meerssen, Smallingerland, Waalre) the formation of a business college was the only solution to achieve a governable solution.


Director Jeroen van Gool of the Aldermen’s Association also sees a lot of political unrest. ‘The battle for the vox populi is coarsening, and increasingly a scapegoat is sought when something does not go as desired. Instead of focusing energy on the solution, the improvement or the lesson to be learned from something, the energy goes into magnifying the disagreement,” he says.

Furthermore, rising costs in the social domain play a large a role in administrative instability. Van Gool: “To keep our heads above water in the social domain, for example, ambitions regarding other facilities are being cut. That leads to tensions in colleges, because promises have been made and ambitions formulated regarding these other facilities, such as libraries, swimming pools and green areas. If you can’t deliver on those, it leads to portfolios being resigned.


Another notable development revealed by The College Table survey is the record number of 59 aldermen leaving for health or personal reasons. For these reasons, more aldermen have already resigned in the current college term than in any other full college term. It is not just older aldermen who want to hand over the baton, but also an ever-increasing number of aldermen who can no longer hold out due to high workloads and political tensions.

Van Gool sees one of the reasons as the many digital works last year. “Digital meetings followed seamlessly, every hole in the calendar was filled,” he says. “Also, the fact that as an administrator you had a more limited ability to interact with your officials, residents and business owners gnawed at aldermen.

Another explanation, he says, is the coarsening in society. Van Gool: “Almost half of all aldermen experience forms of aggression or violence. Where the line of “up to here and no further” is drawn but still crossed, some administrators unfortunately choose eggs for their money. Very unfortunate, but a reality. Aggression, violence and undermining are the axe to the root of our democracy.

Further instability

He also fears that the “black period” will last longer if something is not going to change in the relationship with the empire. ‘More and more must be done, with fewer resources and in less time, and expectations are higher and higher. This pressure creates a breaking point. This became visible last year when municipalities en masse informed The Hague in July that the water was on their lips. The government came up with financial measures, but they are temporary and do not seem adequate. So I expect that this pressure will not diminish in the short term and will lead to further instability in local government.

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