Support drops for blackface Piet, and pensioners have changed their minds the most

Photo: Brandon Hartley
Photo: Brandon Hartley

Public backing for blackface Zwarte Piet continues to crumble, according to a new survey of 2,300 people by I&O Research.

While four years ago, 65% of respondents said that the blackface character should remain part of the Sinterklaas celebrations, that has now gone down to 39%, I&O said.

The research shows that older people are most likely to have changed their minds about Zwarte Piet. In 2018, 62% of people over the age of 65 backed blackface, but this has now dropped to 44%.

The survey also showed that two in five households will celebrate Sinterklaas on November 5, albeit on a smaller scale than in previous years.

Last month, another survey by current affairs show EenVandaag showed 55% still back the blackface version of Piet, down from 71% a year ago.


Support for the traditional Zwarte Piet has been declining for the past 10 years, since anti-racism campaigners started protesting about what they call a racist stereotype.

Since then, campaigners have argued their case on television and in debates, demonstrated at parades and faced physical attacks and abuse by pro blackface supporters.

The bigger Dutch cities, and popular children’s television shows, have now moved behind the sooty-faced Piet substitute, but traditional blackface Piets still hold sway in more rural areas.

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