Local election campaigns have thrown up videos of desperate people with water up to their lips, would-be politicians on horseback and, of course, seemingly never-ending introductions of candidates keen to serve.
But a local party in the municipality of Wijchen in Gelderland, near the German border, has shown more cheek than most with an eyebrow-raising tribute to Scotland this year.
Wijchen Lokaal, which has two seats and is aiming for at least seven of the 27 available, likens its struggle to remain independent from nearby Druten with the Scottish centuries-long fight for self-determination.
To the tune of bagpipes, brass and Auld Lang Syne, the party last week released a campaign video which spread like a Highland wind across Dutch social media: accompanied by two ponies, the candidates march through the fields, dressed in full Highland dress…and, as well as laying out their ambitions, prove that men sometimes do not wear anything under their kilts.
‘Scotland has fought for decades for independence, and in our village in Wijchen, we were almost merged with Druten,’ said party leader and councillor Leo Herms. ‘Fortunately, we were able to prevent the fusion. We believe Scots are always brave, always walk in front if there is a battle to be fought. This is why we associated ourselves with the Scots, and the place where Sean Connery and his James Bond come from…They are a brave folk.’
The video, which has been received in Scotland as ‘mildly unsettling and extremely funny’, is also an attempt to make Dutch national news, said Herms. In 2018, the party’s take-off of the film Bonanza was selected on chatshow Jinek as one of the election’s most entertaining offerings.
The new campaign also explains that since the party wants to show locals the naked truth – working met de billen bloot or, literally, with a bare bum – a traditional kilt without underwear is appropriate. The film ends with a flash of cheek and promise: ‘We have nothing to hide.’
Herms said the Dutch are fascinated by the Scots kilt: ‘Here, people always think: do they have underwear on? Yes or no? It gives a little bit of fun to the film. It’s not just deeply patriotic but also a bit humorous.’
He added that – despite the windy weather – there was no risk to kilt wearing in his town of 41,000 souls. ‘Here, everything is good: Wijchen is perfect.’
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