King’s speech signals end of the classic welfare state

King Willem-Alexander has made his first speech from the throne, outlining government policy for the coming year.

The speech, which lasted 17 minutes, focused on forthcoming legislation, in particular on changes to the care sector.

In the speech, which was written by the government, the king signalled the end of the ‘classic welfare state’ and a switch towards a ‘participation society’ in which people take control of their own lives.

The current situation is not sustainable, the king said. ‘People want to make their own choices, determine their own lives and care for each other.’ This, the king said, was the reasoning behind the government’s decision to decentralise youth services, home care and job creation.


The king began his speech on a personal note, commenting on the start of his kingship at the end of April. He also noted the death of his brother Friso, during which he appeared visibly moved.

Commentators said the speech showed a marked lack of optimism. Nos parliamentary correspondent Dominique van der Heyden noted that the king referred to ‘cautious signs’ the economy is beginning to turn the corner.

The speech could have been more upbeat in this respect, she said.

The Volkskrant said the speech was pragmatic and filled with cabinet plans.

The speech reflected the vision for the Netherlands which prime minister Mark Rutte has in front of him, one in which people find their own way and only rely on the government when really necessary, the paper said.

Read the full speech (Dutch)

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