On March 16, Eindhoven can vote for its city council. One of the parties participating is the PvdA Eindhoven. Tjeerd Ritmeester (32) is a candidate for that party and number 4 on the list. So what are PvdA’s ambitions?
So what does the PvdA wants to accomplish in Eindhoven and in particular for its large international community?
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background?
I was born and raised here in Eindhoven. I grew up in Woensel, Limbeek to be exact, and now I live in the city centre. Currently, I work at a large Dutch international think tank for international relations (the Clingendael Institute). I train diplomats from all over the world in economic diplomacy and international trade.
For 6 years, I have worked and lived outside of the Netherlands (Indonesia, Egypt, Israel, UAE, Belgium and Papua New Guinea). I relate to the challenges and opportunities internationals face when arriving in a new place such as mastering the language, building a social network, adapting to local customs. If you enjoy that, as I do, it’s one big adventure.
“We want every Eindhovenaar to be part of our growth story”: Tjeerd Ritmeester
Could you tell us a little more about the PvdA and why you joined them?
I never thought about representing any other party than the PvdA, the only social-democratic party in the city. I come from a social democratic family. My paternal grandfather, who moved to Eindhoven after World War II, was a medical doctor for Philips and a member of the city council for the PvdA in the 1950s and 1960s. While my maternal grandfather was a union leader for metalworkers. It makes me proud to follow in their footsteps.
The ideals of my grandparents are still very relevant today. The PvdA fights for equal opportunities for everyone. The city you live in is the city we helped to build. Even though Eindhoven is very successful economically, there is still a lot of inequality. Though we see an Eindhoven that is growing and changing fast, not everyone is growing along, also not in the international community. We want to accelerate our success but make sure everyone is part of it.
One of the biggest issues many internationals face today is housing, what are you going to do about that?
Inequality is very visible in our housing market. Many people have no chance to buy a home. Houses are bought up by investors who rent those out for ridiculous prices. Many people are forced to pay those prices since there are no alternatives.
Our housing market is broken and we want to fix that. Of course, our options are limited, since much regulation comes from our national government. We maximize our efforts on a local scale to come up with “out of the box” solutions.
Thanks to our PvdA-alderman Yasin Torunoglu, we built 7800 houses in the last period. 15.000 more new houses are in the pipeline. According to us, 80% of new houses should be at a very affordable rent price: we advocate for a 40-40-20 ruling. Meaning 40% social rent, 40% middle segment, and 20% free market.
Since we are building in a broken market, we need to do more. We thus use all instruments available. For example, we want to prohibit investors to buy houses with a value of fewer than 400.000 euros. To make sure these remain available for citizens and families. And we want the municipality to buy strategic property positions in our city, so we can more easily build new homes. It is our obligation to the city and all its citizens to do whatever we can.
Many internationals in the city are living in their own international bubble. How does the PvdA want to improve cohesion in the city?
It should be much easier for internationals to connect to local people. That is why we seek to create more physical and also online places to meet each other. An online portal, for example, can give internationals access to all information they need. This would be a good start.
The problem, however, is that this is a structural problem. Wherever I go in the city, more and more people say they are missing strong communities, strong neighbourhoods, and strong associations. The lack of social cohesion may trigger feelings of unsafety, it can make you feel lonely, and it does worsen inequality.
The PvdA advocates a bottom-up approach: more support for associations, neighbourhoods and community projects that offer added value to our citizens. Think about civic participation, sport, culture, or other kinds of social activities. Both big and small associations can make a huge difference for people and also boosts integration.
Therefore, it’s important to build the physical infrastructure to maintain strong associations and neighbourhoods. That is why our party brought back the libraries to local communities. But it should also mean more places for internationals and non-internationals to come together and have a drink.
To what extent is Eindhoven a booming city and what more can we do to make it more attractive?
As PvdA Eindhoven, we are proud of what is already done. For example, we initiated the creation of a big regional museum as well as the acquisition of de Wielewaal, which includes a park as big as London’s Hyde Park. Economically, Eindhoven is booming. Our challenge is to become a booming place at a social level: mobility, culture, nature, nightlife, social activities.
Our city should be as ambitious socially as it is economically.
We aim to make maximum use of our knowledge, economic strength and success. From investing in the infrastructure needed for electrical cars to finding innovative solutions to solve the housing crisis.
Working from our world-renowned Brainport cooperation, we can make Eindhoven booming in every sense of the word. Together we can let everyone grow along with our success.