Cornelis de Gelder
Cornelis de Gelder (1856–1931), better known as his nickname Had-je-me-maar, also Hadt-je-me-maar or Hadjememaar, [Dutch for ‘wish you had me’], was a vagrant, street musician and candidate for city council. He was the party leader for the Rapaille Party who were elected in to the municipal council of Amsterdam in 1921.
After being widowed twice, mason and acrobat De Gelder could no longer care for his five children and started a life on the streets. He soon became a familiar sight in Amsterdam, and could usually be found on Rembrandtplein. There he would try to scrape together enough money to buy methylated spirits, the cheapest available variant of alcohol. In 1916 De Gelder was hired to create a commercial for Louis David’s revue show ‘Had-je-me-maar’. He would sing the title song of the show during his street performances. Soon the title of the song became De Gelder’s nickname. He was quite the local celebrity at this time; in 1919 when De Gelder was in the hospital for a dislocated knee, this was reported in the news.
In 1921 De Veelbelovers, a group anarchist boat workers asked De Gelder to become the front-runner for the Vrije Socialistische Groep. By demonstrating that even a homeless person could be elected, the anarchists wanted to act out against the compulsory voting and the parliamentary system. This plan was copied in Rotterdam and other cities, and the movement became nationally known as the Rapaille Party. In a press conference on the March 12, 1921, shortly after officially announcing his candidacy, Had-je-me-maar announced the key points of the electory program: ‘Jajempies (Dutch gin) should cost 5 cents, bread 11 cents and fat 35 cents. Taking down urinals and planting trees in their place, throughout the city.’ A while later the party announced a new item: ‘free hunting and fishing in the Vondelpark’.
Had-je-me-maar and Bertus Zuurbier, second on the electoral list, were elected in to city council. However Had-je-me-maar was arrested shortly before the elections on account of public intoxication and was incarcerated in Veenhuizen during the elections. He was sentenced to a rehab treatment and in the clinic he signed a statement relinquishing his seat. Since there were only two names on the list, his seat was never filled.
Hiemstra, H. (2013), ‘Vergeten volksvertegenwoordigers: Cornelis de Gelder (Hadjememaar)’, Historiek, retrieved 30 July 2013
‘De droom van Hadt-je-me-maar’ (1921), YouTube, retrieved 30 July 2013
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