We now have a say in one regional council
Text: Narcis George Matache
The glass ceiling has been shattered. A non-Danish citizen is now sitting in a Regional Council of Denmark. Internationals are now at the decision-making table on health politics, special sector politics and regional development. It is possible to be part of Denmark. It all depends on YOU. Give me a sign if you want to enter local and regional Danish politics.
Internationals in their local council
My hands are sweating. I keep hitting the back of my head on the art installed on the wall, each time a smiling face comes to me with new information. I listen to their voices, but at the same time, I feel transported into an alternative universe. I look around and anxiously wait for the moment.
“I call upon Narcis… Narsis… Narzis… George Matașe... Matache to join us in the Regional Council” says Ulla Astman, president of the North Denmark Region. There is a murmur in the room because of the foreign-sounding name. “He could be Greek!” “No, I heard he is Italian”. I start walking towards my seat while my hands are shaking.
With each step I take towards the chair, I can feel the heavy pressure on my shoulders. Hundreds of thousands of non-Danish citizens are counting on me to deliver a good first impression. After all, I am the first among us (non-Danish citizens living in Denmark) to sit in a Regional Council. The moment, I reach the seat, I can feel how the glass ceiling shattered, my emotions are gone, and without much difficulties, slipped into the role I have chosen to play.
Soon enough, words like “healthcare”, “development”, “transport”, “COVID-19”, “innovation”, “education”, “grants”, “millions”, “billions”, start to fly around. With each new decision, with each new vote, I can understand the importance of the role I have chosen to play. Regional politics might not be as glamorous as the national ones, but they definitely affect people’s lives, and I was at the table to ensure our voice is also heard.
I am at the table of decision-making because I understood that in Denmark, to be visible and have a say you need to participate. You can complain as much as you want about your life here, but if you don’t plan to do anything about it, then don’t expect it to change. I made a small step for internationals in Denmark. You can turn that step into a big one. Just get involved and become a candidate for the local and regional elections in November 2021.
"Change can create beautiful things. Embrace it and realise all of the new possibilities it has to offer." - Chris Richardson
What is a Regional Council? Denmark is divided into 5 regions (North Denmark, Central Denmark, Southern Denmark, Zealand and Capital Region). Each region is governed by a council that is formed from 41 members elected every 4 years, led by a president of the region. The position of a regional councilman is part-time, as it involves participation in roughly 1 meeting each week, which entitle you to a monthly honorary.
The work in the Regional Council can be divided into 3 main areas: The healthcare system, the special sector and the regional development. The regions decide on how more than 100 billion DKK are distributed in areas mentioned earlier. The regions are a significant employer, as around 117.000 people work for them.
The meetings of the Regional Council are streamed online. As a person living here, you also have the option to read the minutes from the meeting or to participate in person. If you participate in person, you have the chance to address a 2-minutes question directly to the Council. Plus, you can follow the work of the committees (the council is divided further into committees) and obtain the possibility to make a 5-10 minutes address for one chosen topic.
Think about your experience with the hospitals or maybe with the psychiatry unit. Think about your experience with the public transport outside of cities, tourism, environment, education, culture, and with anything that could bring development in the region. Can you make it better? Participate. Make an address directly to the Regional Council. You cannot find support there. Then became yourself part of it in November 2021. Give me a sign, I can help you with the process of becoming a candidate.