Tagged : politics

1 Obama on poster

November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008. The day America elected Barack Obama as their 44th president. I was lucky being in the United States on this very special day. Today it’s November 4, 2011. It’s exactly three years after these historic elections, which gives me a reason to share some of my photos.

Election Day 2008. My day started like any other day. In the morning I went to Rietveld Architects for ‘just another day at the office’. For me, Election Day started at 3PM. Together with two colleagues I went to Rockefeller Center.

NBC News turned Rockefeller Center into Election Plaza.

As you can see on this picture (above), preparations are almost done.

I didn’t go to Rockefeller to see these preparations at Election Plaza. A Dutch news show would broadcast live from the Rockefeller Center for their election coverage. I was part of the audience (which was really fun because my family in the Netherlands watched it live). They started broadcasting at 4PM (10PM in the Netherlands). Election night began!

Several hours later, the sun already set, I took a photo of this incredible view of St. Patricks Cathedral (photo is taken from the news studio in Rockefeller Center). It was time to go downstairs and visit Election Plaza.

Wow! To my surprise the Rockefeller Center turned red and blue for NBC’s broadcasting. Also the skyscraper featured a running electoral count (you can see the number 270, which is the number of delegates each candidate needs to win the elections).

At the building two carts were pulled up. One for Obama and one for McCain. The carts ended at 270 at which stage the next president would be known.

After Obama won three delegates, I together with several other people decided to go somewhere else. We figured it would be more interesting to experience the elections in Harlem, which is where we went.

We visited an Obama campaign office in Harlem. It’s the same office where I watched several of the presidential debates.

Not much later, we found out thousands of people gathered in front of the Bill Clinton Office (which is situated in Harlem). We decided to go there. On the photo above, you’ll see many camera crews from news networks all around the world. Quickly it became clear our gathering would be broadcasted live in many countries!

Together with thousands of people we watched CNN, who projected Obama as winner in Ohio (which was one of the crucial states).

Shortly after I snapped this photograph, I was interviewed by this guy. I didn’t know who he was. Moments later he gave a speech from the podium, so I figured he must be famous. Several days after the elections I found out he’s famous indeed. He’s a well known comedian and has its own show on CNN. And… his interview with me was broadcasted on CNN! (“Even the Dutch are excited”)

It wouldn’t take long until “Yes We Can” became “Yes We Did”.

NBC projected Obama as winner of the elections. Everyone went crazy!

CNN also projected Obama as winner. John Mc Cain was defeated. Barack Obama would be the 44th president of the United States.

Just look at the woman in the lower left of this photo. Need I say more?

The atmosphere was euphoric for a very, very long time.

The governor of New York gave an emotional speech.

To conclude these historic elections, Obama gave his victory speech. During his speech, almost everyone was silent (except for some people shouting “Yes We Can”).

After his speech, crowds got bigger. “O-bam-A” and “Yes We Can” echoed everywhere. People were laughing, hugging and cheering. At 125th Street, crowds were pouring in from all directions. Cars cruised slowly east and west, their windows rolled down, passengers hanging out, waving and shouting. After several hours I went back to my apartment in Lower Manhattan. It was an historic night, and I had been part of it.

OneMinute – Prinsjesdag (The Queen’s Speech)

The Third Tuesday of September. Everyone in the Netherlands knows what this means. Every year on this day the Queen addresses a joint session of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives in the Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) in The Hague. This address is called Troonrede (Speech from the Throne). Or perhaps we should call it the State of the Union.

Prior to this event the Queen arrives by procession at the Hall of Knights. Many soldiers and bands march in front of the Golden Carriage which bears the Dutch Monarch from the Noordeinde Palace to the Ridderzaal. The moment she arrives… Wait… Hold on… Did you say Golden Carriage? You mean a carriage made of gold? Real gold? Yes, that’s right. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has a carriage made of gold. Actually, the coach is made of teak wood, covered in gold leaf. It is pulled by eight beautiful horses. But still, it is gold. And it looks great.

Last year I went to The Hague to see this event. Not all traditions are great. But this is one to keep.

Enjoy this new OneMinute video.



I am standing next to some members of the parliamentary press in a room adjacent to the Dutch House of Representatives. A few meters away, in the plenary hall, the following discussion takes place between two members of parliament…

MP 1: “I want to move this vote to Thursday”

MP 2: “We are voting today”

MP 1: “We would like to vote on Thursday”

MP 2: “I want to vote now to decide wether we should vote today or Thursday”

Yes, you read it correctly. The MP’s want to vote about the date they want to vote! Of course you’re wondering how this ends, but perhaps more importantly, what I’m doing inside the Dutch House of Representatives. I am part of a five member group, invited by a MP to get a backstage tour in this great building.

We had lunch in the official restaurant, saw the old and new House and walked down long marble corridors. We also visited offices and the meeting room of political party CDA and walked through the “famous door” (people interested in Dutch politics know which door I’m talking about — also see picture below). Finally we attended a session of the House of Representatives. Several ministers, including the Prime Minister, came to the House. I guess we were lucky. Few moments later, we went down one floor. Standing next to the entrance of the House of Representatives I am following the remainder of the debate on a nearby screen.

I assume you’d like to know how the debate on voting today or thursday ended?! The Speaker of the House called the leaders of all political parties together. Lip reader as I am, I saw she said “come on guys! Don’t be so childish!”. At the same moment, two people walk towards us. I realize it’s the minister of economic affairs and the MP who invited us over to visit the House. We had the change to speak with the MP, which we did. This resulted in me not knowing the outcome of this undoubtedly ‘very crucial’ and sometimes amusing debate. Nonetheless, it was a great day!

Note: Since it’s not allowed to take photos inside this building, I used a photo of rnw and a video still from the NOS. Thanks!