Voting with Volkers – Ian Hendriks: From entertainer to politician

Voting with Volkers – Ian Hendriks: From entertainer to politician

Even though the Eurofederalist party Volt is a newcomer in Dutch politics, it has already been doing better than expected. After winning three seats in the Second Chamber during the 2021 election, for a large part thanks to students voting, the party has consistently been doing well in the polls. In the Amsterdam municipal elections, Volt is now polling around 6%. To get a better idea of what this new party wants for Amsterdam, I interviewed Ian Hendriks, who is eighth on the list for Volt in Amsterdam.

Ian Hendriks is 32 years old and formerly worked as an entrepreneur in the entertainment sector. Now he has decided to switch up his life and study political science at the UvA, while also being an active member of Volt and a candidate for the Amsterdam municipal council elections. Although Ian was always interested in politics, he never really identified with any single political party until he discovered Volt. As he explains: ‘I was always interested in what was happening around me. I did a lot of volunteer work. I’m also the president of a foundation that does events with societal relevance. And I was always politically engaged, but never even thought about being really active. And then, during the national elections in the Netherlands, I came across Volt and while reading their manifesto, everything was just clicking and I became a member the same evening. I was like, this is where I want to be, this is such a different thing. This is what I’ve been missing.’ Ian was mostly attracted by Volt’s new positive way of doing politics, which he described as a party that does not see itself as left or right, but rather as pragmatic, progressive, pan-European and aimed at cooperation. After joining the party and working as a European coordinator for Volt, Ian received an e-mail about the municipal elections: ‘There was the call, like, hey, we’re going to start preparing the candidates for the elections. We’re looking for candidates. And then I thought ‘Why not?”

Volt’s politics are driven by its ‘6 challenges’: smart state, economic renaissance, social equality, global balance, citizen empowerment, and EU reform. Ian explained how this translates to Amsterdam politics. To help students and young people, in particular, Volt wants to focus on combatting climate change and creating more housing for students and young people. Although Volt has an ambitious progressive agenda for this, it also wants to be realistic about achieving its goals: ‘For example in the housing situation, there’s also just the honest story that in four years, this is not going to be solved.’ According to Ian, the housing market took 20-30 years to derail to the point where it is now, and it’s also going to take longer than four years to solve it. Be it in four years or longer, Volt does have its ideas on how to go about fixing the housing market: ‘We will look towards Vienna, who have solved their housing crisis for a while now. And their city council has very strong control over the housing market. That’s something that we want to introduce them to them as well. The market is not solving this crisis. So now, the government has to step in and take control of the process and make sure that affordable high-quality housing comes back.’

For Ian, democratic reform and citizen involvement in politics are the most important political issues he wants to focus on. As he explains: ‘What I’m really passionate about is citizen empowerment, giving the power back to the people. That might sound a little bit communist, but the idea (…) to rebuild the bridge of trust between the government and the citizens. Some ways he hopes to do this is by giving more budgetary rights for neighbourhoods, lowering the voting age and establishing citizen councils. Democratic reform and citizen involvement are also very relevant to students and young people because the interest of young people in politics is very low. A CBS report from 2019 shows that only 4 out of 10 young people are interested in politics.

When asked about his future political ambitions, Ian explained: ‘This has been such a wild adventure. I have learned so much about politics, but also about myself because you are constantly confronted by your own political opinions and ideas and where those come from. But being politically active doesn’t mean I have to be an elected representative. I can help people from many different positions, and that’s what I want to focus on. I will probably not be elected, because I’m number 8 on the list, but in the coming years we will also have the provincial elections and the European elections, so I will see what I feel like then, but I will forever from now on be trying to help people from whatever position I am in.’