Trust in government still low, 18% say system needs overthrowing

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Almost one in five people in the Netherlands think the government is functioning so badly that the whole political system would be best overthrown, according to research from the socio-cultural think-tank SCP.

One-third of the population said that “serious action” against the government would be justified if it “continued not listening” to the people, but only 6% would be prepared to use violence, the survey showed.

The figures come from the latest edition of a continuous survey of public opinion which the SCP has carried out since 2008 and is based on research between March and August this year. It is the first time questions have been asked about willingness to take action against the government.

The results show that the mood in mid-2023 was still more negative than it has been in the past 15 years, the SCP said. Trust in politics remains low and a large group continues to think that the country is moving in the wrong direction.

Nevertheless, “50 years of research into the public mood has shown that discontent is always with us,” the survey said. “At the same time, since the 1970s a majority of the Dutch are satisfied with the way democracy works, and trust in the legal system and the police remains high.”

Trust in large companies, parliament and the government, however, is below 45% and trust in politics is the lowest it has been in 15 years, the SCP said.

Despite the high level of willingness to take action, people talk about acting within the confines of the rule of law, SCP researcher Emily Miltenburg told broadcaster NOS. “We interpret this as a desire for change.”

Most people – 72% – said it was extremely unlikely that they would take action if parliament came up with legislation that they considered to be extremely unjustified or wrong. Just 12% said they would demonstrate or sign a petition.

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