Picture: Margriet Boersma is a member of the city council of Zwolle and is an intern at the House of Representatives
Student Margriet is the youngest local councillor
Margriet Boersma, student at Windesheims study programme Business Administration, is also the youngest member of Zwolle’s city council. “When you are young you are more open to change.”
“My interest in politics comes from the Anders Breivik incident which happened a few years ago. I thought to myself: ‘How did he acquire those guns?’ I wanted to know all about the law and legislation in Europe and in the Netherlands and what can be changed about them.”
Boersma, currently in her third year of Windesheims study programme Business Management Studies, is a member of the city council since March 2018, representing the political party CDA. “I like to meddle in all kinds of discussions, I like to have conversations with people and to come up with the best solution to a problem.”
Being 22 years old, Margriet is the youngest member of the city council. For her this is a benefit: “When you are young you are more open to change, I am also used as a frame of reference. They often ask me: “Margriet, do you think this idea will fly with the younger generation?”
Margriet`s main focus is on representing students and being the spokesperson for themes such as: education, events (festivals) and sports. Margriet: “As the CDA`s representative, I went to a gathering about making Zwolle a more attractive city for students. A theme that was discussed was the housing shortage for students. Unfortunately it is not an easy problem to solve. However, it is important to show that we as representatives of Zwolle are in touch with the community and want to help solve problems.”
Her lack of experience is not a disadvantage according to Margriet: “My opinions in debates may be rash sometimes, I just say what I think. In my opinion: you have to stay close to yourself to keep up in this line of work.”
“I like to meddle in all kinds of discussions, I like to have conversations with people.”
Dog poo and amateur clubs
Margriet is no stranger to asking questions during the city council’s meetings. “In the beginning most of my questions revolved around less important subjects such as dog poo. However, a more recent subject was about subsidies for sport clubs who want to expand their buildings. I asked what our township can do to promote the arrangement among Zwolle`s amateur-clubs. The alderman said that the township is working on it. As a city council member you are present at the meetings where these questions are asked and as such you are aware of how these problems are being handled.”
Margriet is quite fond of the city council but in the end the work that comes with being a member of the council such as conversations with civilians is what keeps her engaged.
Margriet follows an internship with the Dutch House of Representatives member Evert-Jan Slootweg. “The first week in The Hague really had the wow-effect: all those big, classical buildings and famous people everywhere. It didn’t take me long to feel at home though, I was almost immediately included as a member of the team.”
Margriet is now mainly involved with everything Slootweg does such as: meetings, debates and preparations. Other than that she also researches aspects of elderly healthcare. “The work required for the House of Representatives is not more difficult than the work that you encounter at the city council, it is just a lot more work. The House of Representatives handles things that have consequences for lots of people. The subjects discussed in the city council are very close to the people living in the city you represent and are mostly about issues you can almost immediately do something about. The matters that the House of Representatives discusses about often take years to process.”
Margriet’s agenda is quite full. Every week she spends four days at her internship and three of her evenings are filled with work for the city council.
“The first week in The Hague really had the wow-effect”
“Every week my work with regards to politics take fifty hours of my time. When I sit in the train on my way back home I am usually working on matters involving the city council, eating my dinner is something that is often shoved to the side.
On the question whether she has any free time to relax Margriet says: “Travelling to my work I look at the nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen to give myself some time to relax, I love it! However, I do admit that all my occupations make a pretty busy life. I try to plan my time in such a way that some weekends are free of work. I must say that it is not ideal, but I love being involved in politics and I draw energy from the all the work I put in.”