Festival year '100 years of universal suffrage' concluded
The year in which the Netherlands celebrated 100 years of universal suffrage for men and women was concluded in a festive way in the House of Representatives. To mark the occasion, an investigation report into the lives of Suze Groeneweg and Carry Pothuis-Smit, the first two women ever to become members of parliament in the Netherlands, was presented to the President of the House, Ms Khadija Arib, and the President of the Senate, Mr Jan Anthonie Bruijn.
Prof. dr. Carla van Baalen, director of the Centre for Parliamentary History in Nijmegen, conducted the investigation into the lives of Groeneweg and Pothuis-Smit upon special request of the steering committee of the 'I celebrate my vote' campaign. This committee, which was responsible for organizing campaign festivities throughout the year, was curious whether the two women knew each other well and what their relations, if any, were like. The women were contemporaries, both active in the Social-democratic Labour Party and they both fought for women's rights. Also, they were both candidates for the House of Representatives in the 1918 vote, but only Ms Suze Groeneweg actually got a seat in the House. Ms Pothuis-Smit was elected Senator two years later. The conclusion of the investigation was that the two women were just fellow party member; no more, but no less either. They fought for the same rights, but also disagreed on other issues.
Being sworn in
By the time the names of Ms Suze Groeneweg and Ms Carry Pothuis appeared on the list of candidates, they themselves were not even allowed to vote yet. The respective bill, introduced by Mr Marchant MP and stipulating women's voting rights, was only sent to the House on the very day Ms Suze Groeneweg was sworn in as a member of parliament. The Act finally came into force on 28 September 1919.
The President of the House, Ms Khadija Arib, said in her speech that the fight for universal suffrage 100 years ago was a political fight, but most of all, it was a social struggle. "That is why we wanted to celebrate 100 years of universal suffrage in the entire country, and not just in The Hague. That goal was achieved. Throughout the Netherlands, events took place and are still taking place: exhibitions, performances, festivals ... It has become a national celebration, in which very many people took part".
The gathering was concluded with a suffrage quiz, in which participants could win a silver coin issued specifically to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the introduction of universal suffrage for men and women.