Low-level corruption is baked into Dutch society, according to the latest citizen survey by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research.
The SCP, which takes the temperature of a representative group of citizens, looks periodically at the mood of the country, trust in politics and institutions and topical issues.
Its latest report, surveying two groups of 2,102 and 1,321 and four focus groups in April this year, found that trust in politics remains at historic lows. Corruption is also seen as a constant part of Dutch administration, particularly in local government, and many people are concerned about misinformation online.
The surveys, done before the fall of the last Rutte government, found that only 43% of the research group felt a reasonable level of confidence in parliament and 42% in the government, although two-thirds were (relatively) satisfied with the functioning of democracy. Seven in ten supported Dutch membership of the EU.
Another theme was that corruption – known literally in Dutch as “the politics of friends” or vriendjespolitiek – is seen as a constant part of Dutch administrative culture. It is visible in officials, according to 37% of respondents, and occurs often or almost always according to 47%. People gave examples of public officials, local politicians and subjects such as giving building permits or job offers.
“People see vriendjespolitiek as a part of the political-administrative culture of ‘we all know each other’ and making compromises,” the report said. “Some see nepotism as a general Dutch phenomenon that occurs everywhere in society.”
A special study into social media, to coincide with new European rules for large platforms, also found almost half of Dutch people are concerned about false or misleading information on social media.
The survey showed that although 76% trust themselves to distinguish incorrect information from correct sources, half of people have serious concerns about misinformation. People are largely worried that fake news will increase polarisation in other people, and that developments in artificial intelligence will make it harder to discern.
Six in 10 said that freedom of information laws should prevent people from threatening groups while 48% said they should stop people sharing incorrect information. Enforcement by authorities was acceptable in the case of hate speech or threats but not to moderate standards of decency. A total of 71% thought the national government should set rules about what is acceptable on social media and the internet, 64% thought it was the job of Europe and 50% the role of tech firms.
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