The national ombudsman and national socio-cultural advisory body SCP have both called on the government to listen better to ordinary citizens.
Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen said in his annual report that talking to people can sometimes result in surprisingly simple solutions for problems, as well as aiding financial and emotional recovery.
People often feel no one is listening to them and that they are not being taken seriously, he said. In addition, many people want their voices to be heard at other times, not just during elections.
“Participation can only be successful if people actually have a say and influence,’ he said. “We will continue to monitor how citizens are involved, in particular in areas where ‘participation’ is being used to paper over the cracks.”
The ombudsman’s report coincided with the publication of new recommendations from the SCP which also called on ministers to listen better to the people.
In particular, referenda and citizens’ committees representing a wide range of interests could be used to close the gap between politicians and the electorate, and make sure more opinions are heard, the SCP said.
The SCP said in April that the negative mood in the Netherlands worsened considerably last year, with the percentage of people thinking society is heading in the wrong direction rising from 46% in the spring to 62% by the autumn.
The percentage of people expecting the economy to worsen also rose from 63% to 73%, the SCP said, quoting figures from its continuous survey of public perspectives.
At the same time, however, 85% say they are satisfied with their own lives, a figure which has not changed for several years.
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