Juliet Broersen and Itay Garmy are the faces of Volt Amsterdam, the party that can count on more than 10 percent of the vote in the council elections. Politicians could use more confidence, they think. “People are done with politics in front of the stage.”
In the previous campaign that Juliet Broersen (25) and Itay Garmy (28) did for Completed, they did their best to get attention. But the party with three seats in the House of Representatives was elected and there is in the spotlight with sharp opposition, invitations are pouring in at Volt to participate in debates and meetings. Media, civil society organizations and other political parties are eager to know what this new pan-European party stands for, now that polls show that new shares seem to be awarding.
Broersen and Garmy are deliberately not very certain about the consequences a vote for Volt will have for the future of Amsterdam. According to them, that is difficult to say if you want to engage in open politics. You should consciously not expect a plan calculated down to the last comma on how the housing or climate crisis should be derived from Volt, they say. Broersen and Garmy try to keep an open mind, there is no shame in hesitating at Volt.
They even dare to say – atypical in politics – that the city is doing well despite corona and other problems. “People are tired of the fact that politics has become so fierce and hard,” says Broersen. Garmy: “Our honest story is: we have only just started, other parties have been doing this for years. Our vision is still developing and we are working on it.”
How does it feel that Volt is getting the support of 1 in 10 Amsterdammers in the council elections in polls?
B (Juliet Broersen): “Really great, it shows that people are ready for a new political sound. They see what Volt is doing in the House of Representatives and want change, but without becoming populist.”
G (Itay Garmy): “People tell me that Volt represents a new governance culture, the way they want to see politics. People are done with politics in front of the stage where you attack each other as hard as possible.”
Why is a pan-European party running in municipal elections?
B: “We are indeed a European political party, but what you want to achieve in Europe has to be applied at a level, so we want to think along at all levels. Moreover, many Amsterdammers voted for Volt during the parliamentary elections last year, so it was a logical step to participate.”
How do you think the city is doing?
B: “Amsterdam is on a good course and there is a progressive coalition that has done many great things. But what really needs to be improved is listening to the people of Amsterdam. Just look at the discussion about wind turbines or the future of window brothels in the Red Light District. We want a better reception in the coming years and more public consultations, such as in the coming year about sustainability.”
G: “Due to corona, the city has been empty in recent years, which the city council cannot do much about. For me it also matters when there are tourists of young people through the streets.”
What are the most important for Amsterdam?
B: “I think that almost everyone has seen Sander en de Kloof (television program by Sander Schimmelpenninck, ed.) about the inequality of opportunity that has arisen. And how about the housing crisis, how difficult that so many houses in the free sector are empty because the prices are unaffordable?”
G: “With regard to the housing crisis, political parties are not telling the fair story. There is not enough space for everyone who wants to live in Amsterdam. There are few construction sites, even if we are all building, not everyone can go here.”
For which groups is there no room for Volt?
G: “I can enrich expats for Amsterdam, but maybe you should look into how you can encourage them to live there more in consultation with the peripheral municipalities. Groups that need less of a big city can easily go back and forth with good public transport connections. Vulnerable groups should stay in Amsterdam, because they receive the right support here.”
Vulnerable groups first in social housing, but nothing is nothing in Volt’s election program. Don’t you think this is important?
B: “That’s right, social rent must be added. They do that very well in Vienna, Amsterdam can learn something from that.”
How many social housing units then, and at what cost?
G: “We have deliberately not attached any percentage targets to our ambitions in the housing market, because whether they are achieved depends on the economic conditions.”
In Vienna they once started with a plan of action. Can you follow a situation how the Amsterdam housing market?
G: “That’s a good point, we could have been more explicit in how we want to build.”
B: “Ultimately, we want new construction for Amsterdammers, just like the ultimate housing fund in Zaanstad, eventually realizing more affordable owner-occupied homes.”
Should new construction really only go to residents of Amsterdam, as stated in your election manifesto?
B: “No, yes, look… If you want to move to Amsterdam, you are an Amsterdammer as far as we’re concerned.”
G: “It’s good that you mention it, maybe we should look at this critically.”
According to your election manifesto, a sustainable city is important to you. What’s not right now?
B: “A lot of things are going well! In thinking about the (circular, red) donut economy, Amsterdam is at the forefront, the realization is very present that it is already 1 past 12. What is going less well are the wind turbines that have to be installed in residential areas, Volt is against that.”
What would Volt think would be a good alternative to wind energy?
B: “Windmills at sea, there is much more room to make. And we need to focus more on solar energy.”
G: “There must be support among residents for the energy transition. If they don’t want wind turbines, you have to offer alternatives to increase support.”
According to the city council, it is forbidden to achieve the agreed 55% CO2 reduction in 2030 without 17 windmills. Is a postponement of that target an option for Volt?
G: “We don’t have time to put on the brakes, but we do have time to create more support. You have to lead people to a better future and tell them the honest story.”
Keeping wind turbines away from residential areas and simultaneously achieving the CO2 reduction target is not possible. Is that a fair story?
G: “There should be no delays in achieving the goals. But if what the municipality says is correct, then those turbines may have to move a little further away from those residential areas. I’ve always been told that it is possible. In any case, it is clear that there is no support for wind energy there.”
You a net inequality as an important theme. How does Volt want to fight?
B: “Education is very important. We have a plan for free school lunches. The level of teacher salaries is largely in The Hague, but the municipality could organize more tutoring for young people who need it. It does indeed have a hefty price tag, but the municipality does think it is important to spend a lot of money on something, so if there are good ideas that make the city better, that is clearly possible.”
In a new city council, far more than the 12 percent who would vote for the party. Are you willing to drive?
G: “Whether it is opposition of coalition, dualism is paramount for us. If you want to grow confidence, you have to show that as a councilor you are prepared to properly monitor the council, prepared for your opposition from coalition. Ideally, I would like to collaborate with the opposition.”
B: “Our party wants to work with everyone, with the exception of FvD. And maybe working with JA21 is less likely, shall I say. But further; seek more cooperation and more similarities instead of increasing the differences. That’s really important.”
Battle of the Stopera
On March 16, Amsterdam will elect a new city council. Spend in run-up The Parool attention to the political parties, campaigns, polls and relations in the Stopera. Read along via parool.nl/elections