Senate election takes place this afternoon: cabinet alliance to lose majority

Despite economic improvements, more people seek help with debt

The members of the 12 Dutch provincial councils will this afternoon elect the 75 members of the upper house of parliament and the ruling coalition is set to lose its fragile majority.Since the previous election, the VVD and Labour parties have relied on the help of the Liberal democratic party D66 and two small religious parties to ensure controversial legislation gets passed in the senate.But pundits say the five parties are likely to win only 36 or 37 senate seats, and they need 38.  Last week the three parties, known as the 'friendly opposition' pulled out of talks on next year's spending plans saying there was no point without a majority of seats in the senate.Behind the scenes the political horse-trading is under way in an effort to scrape up the remaining votes, broadcaster Nos reports. The VVD, for example, is trying to persuade the regional parties who do not have senate candidates, to support its list of potential senators.[banner]  More >

Justice minister to tackle biker gangs

Justice minister looks at ways to tackle biker gangs Justice minister Ard van der Steur is looking into ways to tackle motorbike gangs, including a possible ban, he said after meeting a number of worried mayors in Limburg province, the Telegraaf reports.'If that is what is necessary, then it has to happen,' Van der Steur is quoted as saying. 'It may be possible to bring in a ban using civil law.'The minister also pledged to dispatch extra police officers to the province to deal with the bikers if needed but did not make any promises about structural improvements in police numbers, news agency ANP reports.[banner]Gang members 'threaten people, create fear and earn money from criminal activities,' the minister said. 'They need to keep their hands off our people, mayors, officials and police officers. They will notice what happens if they don't.'InternationalInternational efforts to curb the gangs are also underway and the minister will soon sign an alliance with Belgium and two German regions on dealing with them, ANP says. This is necessary because the gangs do not respect national boundaries, Van der Steur said.Limburg mayors have been sounding the alarm because of increased inter-gang tension and claims that criminal bikers are infiltrating local politics. The mayor of Kerkrade is under police protection because of threats.  More >

Labour senate leader slams macho culture

Labour senate leader slams macho culture in political campaigns Marleen Barth, who leads the Labour party in the senate, has called on the media and her fellow politicians to change the way political campaigns are being fought.In an interview with the Volkskrant on Tuesday, Barth says there needs to be an end to the 'macho' approach of 20-second television sound bites during television debates. 'These subjects deserve more than 20 seconds,' she said. 'You lose the nuances in your story.'This form of 'megaphone democracy' is turning voters off, Barth says, pointing out just 48% of those eligible to vote in the provincial elections did so. 'More than 60% of those who voted were male. Women are turning their backs in droves. And I think that is to do with the macho feel.'[banner]  More >

Holland paid €133m extra to EU in 2014

Despite economic improvements, more people seek help with debt The Netherlands paid an extra levy of €133m to the European Union in 2014 which is far higher than originally thought, the Telegraaf reports on Tuesday.The top-up amount, over and above the €1.1bn Dutch contribution to the EU budget, was paid to Brussels by finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem last December.Last autumn the Netherlands was faced with an extra payment of €642m because the economy had grown more strongly than forecast.[banner]The Telegraaf says the extra levy came to light in a government financial statement sent to parliament last week. Dijsselbloem and prime minister Mark Rutte are due to debate the final statement in parliament on Tuesday and the Christian Democrats are asking for an explanation of the payment.Every member country of the EU pays into the EU budget on the basis of the size of its economy and the figure is adjusted every few years.  More >

Slightly more Dutch women take top jobs

Despite economic improvements, more people seek help with debt There was a slight increase in the number of women in top jobs at 250 Dutch firms which have signed a government charter committing themselves to change, news agency ANP says on Tuesday.Women accounted for 20.9% of board level jobs at the companies by the end of last year, compared with 19.8% in 2013. The Dutch government has an official target of 30% and ministers have threatened to bring in quotas unless firms start promoting more women to top jobs.The 250 companies have signed a charter called Talent naar de Top to show their commitment to boosting the number of women on their management and supervisory boards.[banner]The signatories say 44% of their executive boards and 21% of their non-executive directors now meet the government targets, compared with around 10% at other companies.Earlier this year, emancipation minister Jet Bussemaker launched a database of women considered suitable for senior positions in industry in an effort to stimulate companies to change their ways.  More >