Green Lizard's Blog

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In Dutch, The word stem means voice.

But it’s a word with more than one meaning.

It also means vote.

I like that vote and voice.

To use our democratic vote is to speak out.

I was struck by the importance of this word this week because I’ve just received my stempas to vote in the European elections in two weeks time.

Curiously, there is a theory from Bill Bryson that Dutch is a collection of words that also appear in English that have a different meaning and are used in an unfamiliar order. So for example the English word or is of in Dutch.

As a gardener, I’m intrigued that stem is the key part of a plant that gives it stability and height. Maybe that’s the job of our votes too.

I live in a foreign country. As an EU citizen, I’ve had the chance to vote in local council elections but a few weeks ago we received a letter each, offering the opportunity to register to vote in the European elections.

Only Dutch people can vote in the national parliamentary elections so the European elections are an important opportunity to use my voice in Europe.

If you live in Europe you may have noticed a great deal of news about these elections.

The European Parliament is based in Brussels and Strasbourg it has representatives from across Europe who also have party allegiances.

In recent years, there’s been a new development in electoral choice. Across Europe, parties with an environmental interest have become more and more prominent.

The Green option exists in more significant numbers. Now this isn’t a political blog, but I’m sure if you’ve read much of it you can imagine that green issues in politics are interesting to me.

Women in The Netherlands had their first opportunity to vote in 1922. That’s less than 100 years ago. Yet other European countries including France, only had votes for women in the 1940s.

So regardless of who I vote for most important is that I use my stem on 22 May.


7 comments on “Stempas

  1. aimingtobegreen
    May 11, 2014

    How big is the green party in the Netherlands? We’re a growing force here in the UK and hopefully should pick up some more council seats and a couple of MEPs.


    • lizard100
      May 11, 2014

      Well Dutch politics is complicated. We have a sound multiparty system. Post war the Dutch wanted to stop having two main parties dominating their parliament (!) it was see as a contributor to the war. So now we have a good base of eight to ten parties with around four or five sharing much of the vote then three or four more in the next group. To me green is in the second section. So in local council elections recently our council has three green seats while the bigger groups have six to eight each.


  2. Rambling Woods
    May 11, 2014

    Green really isn’t a word used often enough in the US. It is embarrassing to me that oil and chemical companies have so much clout here and we may have the only people on the planet who deny climate change… But I do what I can…


  3. tootlepedal
    May 11, 2014

    Vote early and vote often as they used to say in Northern Ireland.


  4. Erin Kurnik
    May 18, 2014

    Love the the multiple meanings of stem and the metaphor of the plant stem.


    • lizard100
      May 18, 2014

      Thanks Erin. I’m always intrigued by language overlaps!


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This entry was posted on May 11, 2014 by in conservation and tagged , , .

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a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...

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