Not a single alderman of Leidendorp lives in the municipality. The mayor also lives elsewhere – Laila Driessen already moved from her official residence this spring in the run-up to her retirement next month. As a result, Leiderdorp is now wholly governed “from outside,” NRC reports.
The Municipal Act states that anyone who becomes a city councilor, alderman, or mayor of a municipality must be rooted in that municipality. That is the idea of democracy – citizens governing themselves at every administrative level. But when Leiderdorp’s three governing parties, GroenLinks-PvdA, CDA, and LPL, looked for suitable councilors last year, they couldn’t find any of the 27,750 Lederdorp residents who could or wanted to govern their neighbors.
So they had to look across the municipal borders, which is possible thanks to a change in the law in 2002 – municipal councils can grant administrators an exemption to living in the municipality for one year at a time.
According to an inventory by the Alderman’s Association at the start of this year, a third of the 342 municipalities have aldermen who don’t live in the municipality. About one in eight aldermen don’t live in the municipality they govern.
According to John Bijl, who trains local politicians and administrators, this is mainly due to parties being unable to find suitable candidates within their own municipality. Fewer and fewer citizens are willing to represent or govern their neighbors, Bijl said. The number of Dutch people who are members of a political party has been declining for decades.
And so the Leiderdorp aldermen Gebke van Gaal, Daan Binnendijk, and Herman Romeijn live in Leiden, Rijburg, and Utrecht. Van Gaal and Binnendijk don’t think the Leidedorp residents care much that they commute. “I’m here every day. If necessary, I’m also here at the weekend. And I participate in absolutely everything to establish roots here,” Binnedijk told the newspaper, mentioning a pub quiz last month.
The distance can also be an advantage. When Binnendijk was an alderman in Rijnsburg and then the merged municipality of Katwijk, people regularly approached him on the street to ask for favors. “That doesn’t happen now,” he said.
https://nltimes.nl/2023/10/17/leiderdorp-mayor-city-council-leaders-live-elsewhere Leiderdorp mayor and city council leaders all live elsewhere