Government should keep out of ‘participation society’, says prime minister

Prime minister Mark Rutte said on Thursday he does not want the ‘participation society’ to be forced on people by government policies.

The prime minister spoke to website nu.nl during a visit to Amsterdam, when which he visited two private initiatives. In one, two local shops in the Indische neighbourhood are offering coupons to their customers if they do something for the area. They can then redeem the coupons for products.

He also visited a group of pensioners in Amsterdam Zuid who have set up a local group to help themselves and others with company, care and odd jobs.

Participation society

Rutte was asked if these are examples of the participation society mentioned by king Willem-Alexander in his speech at the opening of parliament on September 17.

‘Yes, and I have the impression these sort of initiatives are increasing quickly,’ the prime minister said. ‘Now it is for the government to get out of the way, and to see how we can form a link with these initiatives to get things moving even faster.’

People sometimes think the participation society means the government will wag its finger and say they should be doing more things together and for each other, Rutte said. This is not the case. If anything, the government is lagging behind society, he said.

Society is undergoing a fundamental transformation, Rutte told nu.nl. There is less money and people are inspired to get things organised for themselves.

It is now up to government at all levels to bring these initiatives together without getting in the way. ‘This is how you achieve a more closely-knit society,’ Rutte said.