The Netherlands: a tale of two governments

The Netherlands: a tale of two governments The longer the process to form a new coalition takes place, the more the Netherlands is becoming a country run by two governments with a shared prime minister, writes Gordon Darroch During the 1950s the Netherlands was famous for having two foreign ministers. When asked to explain this curious situation, one of them, Joseph Luns, is said to have quipped: Als klein land heeft Nederland heel veel buitenland. ('As a small country, the Netherlands has a great deal of foreign parts'). That the Dutch have become more inward-looking in recent years is reflected in the fact that the country currently has two governments, both concerned mainly with domestic issues and conjoined by a shared prime minister, Mark Rutte. On the one flank there is Rutte-II, the partnership forged in adversity of the right-wing Liberals (VVD) and centre-left Labour party (PvdA). It drove through a package of reforms to lift the economy out of the mire of the banking crisis, but at the cost of the near-annihilation...  More >

Podcast: The Game Show Finger Edition

While storms ravaged the Dutch coast and Sint-Maarten continued to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the coalition talks remained stuck in the doldrums on the eve of Prinsjesdag – or 'Budget Day' as we're fond of calling it. This week's podcast gives you the lowdown on the history, horses and hats that make up the ceremonial opening of the Parliamentary year. We also tell you about a woman who lost €147 when she was caught short in Amsterdam and a man who lost €5 million when his nerves got the better of him on live TV, and explain why neither the prime minister nor the Dutch flower trade are as romantic as they might seem. In this podcast we said the record for the longest cabinet was held by the Den Uyl cabinet of 1977. We did, of course, mean the Van Agt cabinet of 1977, which took office after Joop den Uyl had tried unsuccessfully to form a government. Click here if you'd like to donate to the Red Cross Hurricane Irma appeal Nederland helpt Sint-Maarten Top...  More >

Our favourite summer photos

Summer in the Netherlands: our favourite readers’ photos We asked our readers to send us their favourite summer photos in the Netherlands. We got lots of great photos from far and wide but we had to narrow down our favourites to pick the winner, who gets two tickets to MUST. You can see all of the photos that were submitted on our Facebook page. A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 6:15am PDT A summer terrace - Stepan Khachatryan A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 6:46am PDT One happy couple - Jaileen Jasleen A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 5:36am PDT Local wildlife in Zuid-Kennemerland National Park - Karolina Kasperek A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Sep 11, 2017 at 5:25am PDT The Pooping Man in Flevoland - Marko Markov A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl) on Aug 29, 2017 at 5:21am PDT What's a Dutch summer without rain? - Hanneke Sanou A post shared by Dutch News (@dutchnewsnl)...  More >

Forget savings accounts: Buy-to-let

With interest rates at record lows – making the return on savings minimal – investing in property to rent out is becoming increasingly popular. Buy-to-let has been big business in Britain but is now catching on in the Netherlands as well. ‘A buy-to-let mortgage is intended specifically for someone who wants to buy residential property to rent out,’ says Ralf van Arkel, of Expat Mortgages. ‘For expats who have the financial means, it's a great way to invest their savings and enjoy extra, tax-free income in the form of rent.’ Buy-to-let mortgages were out of favour in the Netherlands for years but in 2015 the tide began to turn. Expat Mortgages, which specialises in helping expats find a mortgage, has now introduced a special unit Expat Buy2Let, specifically to help international workers looking for an alternative to banks to put their money. ‘Given the incredibly low interest rates right now, it is a much more lucrative thing to do than putting money in a savings...  More >

'Imagine what Anne Frank went through'

British national Paul Brown has considered himself a Hagenaar for 26 years, eats his herring without bread and pickles and raves about Dutch beaches. Single with one son, Paul is the director of financial advice group Blacktower. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I moved to the Netherlands in the early 1990s for work. I was working in financial services in London, there was a recession in the UK and someone told me about the exciting market working with expats overseas. I wanted to go to Hong Kong. However, the company I had an interview with sent me to Holland instead. I was peed off, but it was a job. I stayed with that firm for a while before joining another firm where I became a partner. Subsequently, in June 1996 I started my own firm, which eventually merged with Blacktower in 2014. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc? I'd say that I am an international because although I live here, I travel a lot. Technically I suppose I am...  More >

There's more to NL than the Wilhelmus

Dutch national identity goes further than singing the Wilhelmus National identity is about more than the national anthem, writes Kim Putters, head of the government's social policy advisory body SCP. This summer the search for what constitutes the Dutch identity took centre stage once again. A rumour about including the national anthem in the school curriculum as part of the next government's policy programme got tongues wagging. Opponents responded by protesting that the Dutch colonial past should be given more priority. It never ceases to amaze me how any discussion about what does or does not belong to the national identity becomes mired in whataboutery. Our children should be taught about the Wilhelmus as well as our colonial past, but they should be taught much more than that. In my opinion, this trade-off of historical achievements represents an insidious and broader erosion of historical and cultural awareness. The arts and culture ceased to be a priority for the Dutch years ago. When the SCP asks people what the government...  More >

Podcast: The Suicidal Kleptocat Edition

The podcast team wraps up a busy week in the news that included Hurricane Irma, a ban on sugary drinks in schools, a controversy over a suicide drug and a cat that's been nicking knickers from its neighbours. We also discuss the likely impact of the court judgment that required the caretaker government to come up with new plans to tackle air pollution. Top story Hurricane Irma devastates Dutch Caribbean islands News No budget debate this year (NOS, Dutch) Suicide powder boosts membership of assisted dying club Immigrants told to take extra integration tests Sugary soft drinks banned from sale in schools Passengers spending less money at Schiphol Lost wartime letters reunited with owner Sebas the jatkat can't stop stealing from neighbours' houses Sport Dutch hopes of qualifying for World Cup hang by a thread Discussion Dutch state has two weeks to produce clean air plan, court rules Netherlands latest EU country to be told to improve...  More >

The Netherlands' top 10 largest companies

Annual revenue is usually the main yardstick in judging corporate size. In the Netherlands, however, another standard has to be applied: Dutchness. Many large global companies are domiciled in the Netherlands through a shell or letterbox construction, but their presence in the domestic market is much smaller than the figures suggest. Chief among them is LyondellBasell Industries, a multinational chemical company with American and European roots, incorporated in the Netherlands and based in Rotterdam. However, its US headquarters are in Houston and its global operations are run from in London. We say it ain't Dutch enough. The same goes for EADS, the parent of European aerospace group Airbus. EADS Is headquartered in Leiden, but its very substantial operations are elsewhere in Europe. That has the distinct clatter of the letterbox, so we've discounted it too. And with the current global takeover mania just warming up, who knows how many of the companies on our list will remain...  More >

Climb Kilimanjaro to help War Child

Dutch aid group War Child is looking for internationals with a taste of adventure to join the Kili Challenge - to climb mount Kilimanjaro and collect as much money as they possibly can to save children affected by war. If you love adventure and change, you will definitely enjoy the Kili-Challenge offered to you by War Child. You are invited to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and while you’re at it, collect as much money as you can to help children living in war zones around the globe. You will pay for your own trip, and War Child will challenge you to raise that sum by at least € 2,400 through sponsorships. To make sure you are perfectly ready to climb Africa’s highest mountain (5,895 metres) not only physically, but mentally as well, War Child is offering you an inspiring programme. This month we are organising the first out of at least three get-togethers. We will help you collect funds and make sure you are physically ready (think a weekend training in the Belgian Ardennes). Friends 'In...  More >

Top tips for getting your ideal apartment

If you are looking to rent a private property, you will have to be accepted by the landlord of the property. So how do you make sure he or she picks you, rather than the others queuing up to view? At a time where housing is in short supply, and every available space will have a number of keen tenants lining up, here are some ways in which you can stand out and persuade the landlord that you will be the right person to let the property to. How? Be prepared, be professional and be polite. Tip 1: Make a great first impression When going to view a property, or even when going to an open house viewing, make sure you come across well. Wear smart clothing, look neat, clean and respectable. If you think of it as a job interview, you won’t go far wrong. Also, make sure you arrive on time if a time has been agreed, don’t stand outside smoking while you wait, and make sure you put your phone on silent before the visit. Tip 2: Paperwork Check if the advert stated anything about bringing...  More >

Blog Watching: Our story of the Kos quake

Thousands of holidaymakers were on the Greek island of Kos when it was hit by an earthquake this summer. Kristen Woudstra, an Australian woman who lives in Maassluis with her Dutch husband and two children was one of them. She works as a personal assistant and blogs about her life in the Netherlands at Kristen in Clogland.  We were four days into our fourteen day vacation in Kos Town, on the Greek island of Kos. We had been looking forward to this holiday for months. It had been a tough year. That day was just like the previous three, we lazed by the pool of our resort, swam, had a siesta, then swam some more. In the evening, we walked into the city centre where we enjoyed a fantastic dinner in a picturesque little Greek restaurant, then went to our favourite little place near the main town square for some ice cream. We marveled at the ancient buildings and structures, the marina and the old castle walls. We then walked back to our apartment (a ten minute stroll from...  More >

Podcast: The Loose Camel Edition

This week's podcast brings you up to speed on the budget crisis that almost felled a lame-duck government, the student who went to court seeking a volte-face in her French exam results and the ongoing misery circus that is Dutch football. Plus some camels go on the run in Castricum and we find out how the Dutch manage to work fewer hours than anyone else in Europe. In our discussion we look at the problem of fake news and ask who should fix it: the government, the media or readers themselves? Housekeeping announcement DutchNews changes comments policy Top story Budget crisis averted News NS warns of overcrowding on peak-hour trains Egg sales recover after fipronil scandal Schoolgirl fails to have exam result overturned in court Escaped camel goes walkabout in Castricum (NOS, Dutch) Sport Dutch men and women claim European hockey titles Netherlands lose World Cup qualifier 4-0 to France Discussion: fake news, propaganda and cybersecurity Netherlands...  More >

Amsterdam's Paradiso turns 50

There can be few people in the Netherlands who have never been to Paradiso in Amsterdam. Everyone has played there - the Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse... the list is endless. Next year, the celebrated former religious community centre will celebrate 50 years at the forefront of modern music. Brandon Hartley has been delving into the history books. Courtney Love was not having a good evening. The infamous lead singer of the grunge band Hole was in a particularly foul mood when she finally took the stage in the main hall of Paradiso on 24 April, 1995. After a long delay, the band managed to get through six songs before someone in the crowd hurled a drink at her head. That’s when Love completely lost it. Moments later, she was rampaging across the balcony in search of the culprit. The incident is just one of the countless unforgettable moments that have taken place in the venue after it first opened its doors on 30 March, 1968. Since first launching...  More >

See out the summer with an exclusive party

If you are looking for an amazing night out to celebrate the end of the summer, where better than an exclusive party at Scheveningen’s stunning Kurhaus hotel? The Kurhaus, where Europe’s elite came to take in the sea air, has seen its fair share of magical events over the years. The Rolling Stones even ran riot there in the 1960s. This year the MUST party team are back in town on September 23 for the latest edition of their legendary dance events, set against the stunning backdrop of the Kurhaus ballroom. The dress code is come as you are – but make sure it is the most beautiful version of yourself, of course. Dance the night away to a top line-up, sipping on champagne from the Moët & Chandon bar or a cocktail from Belvedere and Bacardi. Good tip: you can order your bottles in advance at a discount via This year's performers include Shermanology and Benny Rodrigues, and more star names will be announced next week. And then after the party is over, you...  More >

Encourage expats: don't ban the 30% ruling

Expats make an important contribution to the Dutch economy and are much less likely to profit from rebates or use public services. So instead of abolishing the 30% ruling, the government should think of more ways to attract highly-trained internationals, say Robert van der Jagt (partner at Meijburg & Co) and Aart Nolten (partner at Deloitte). The most important part of the 30% ruling is an effective reduction of the top income tax tariff of 52% to 36.4% (70% of 52%) which the Netherlands, unlike in other countries vying for international top talent, starts at €67,000. The ruling makes sure that the Netherlands is an attractive option for knowledge workers. Apart from Germany, most other European countries have similar rulings. In practice, expats who fall under the 30% ruling are limited as to the extent to which they can apply for tax breaks, such as mortgage tax relief. Expats are less likely to buy a home here, while saving accounts are not advantageous from a tax point...  More >

Podcast: The What's Taking So Long Edition

DutchNews podcast: The What Is Taking Them So Long Edition In this week's podcast we learn how one angry young man caused a concert to be cancelled, learn why you're increasingly likely to be born and die on a weekday, find out how smartphones have learned to speak Limburgish and review the latest sporting successes and failures. Plus we discuss what impact the threat of terrorism has had on day-to-day life in the Netherlands. Top story Terror warning cancels concert in Rotterdam News Coalition talks move to country estate Girl sues over failed French exam Fewer weekend births and deaths Sports: hockey success, football failure Android learns Limburg dialect Discussion Dutch terror threat remains 'substantial' despite recent wave of attacks Category added to terror threat scale (NOS, Dutch) Police employee arrested over leaked information to GeenStijl (RTL, Dutch)  More >

11 great things to do in September

It's almost September, so here is our list of some of the best things to see and do next month - from visiting Groningen's historic country houses to watching a Greek tragedy and checking out the wonders at the Netherlands' botanical gardens. Sample different cultures The annual Embassy Festival in The Hague is all about great music and delicious food. Visit the cultures of exotic countries against the backdrop of the Lange Voorhout which is saying a temporary goodbye to its august dignity in favour of colour and sound on September 1 and 2. Website Get stitched up 24 international textile artists show their work and techniques at the Textiel Biënnale for the fifth time at Museum Rijswijk.'Hard-hitting messages about repression, terrorism, old age and gender packaged in soft textiles', is how the museum puts it. Until September 24  website Enjoy a little bare cheek Theatre company Illyria's acclaimed version of The Emperor's New Clothes comes to Raadhuis de Paauw in Wassenaar...  More >

Next cabine should avoid a spending spree

The Dutch economy may be on the up - with growth set to hit 3.3% this year - but the next Dutch government should not be planning a spending spree, say economists Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend. The latest macro-economic figures from national statistics office CBS and independent research institute CPB show that the Dutch economy is doing well and all the signs are right for an even brighter future ahead. The political opponents of Mark Rutte’s cabinet claim that this is largely the result of an international upturn and that the VVD-Labour coalition policies have been detrimental rather than positive. But although it is true that world trade developments, the low euro rate and depressed oil prices have helped Rutte, economists as well as international think tanks believe his policies have been instrumental in getting the country back on top. Bad way When the cabinet started out in 2012, the Netherlands was in a bad way. The economy was shrinking, unemployment...  More >

Decoding the Dutch national anthem

Suggestions that the next government might make lessons about the Wilhelmus part of the Dutch school curriculum led to raised eyebrows and considerable criticism earlier this month. But then, as Ryan Walmsley reports, the world’s oldest national anthem is steeped in heritage, myths and misunderstandings. It’s the 1570s. Spain is in the midst of a golden age after conquering the mighty Incan and Aztec empires. Silver, gold and other treasures from the New World are flowing into the Spanish Hapsburg’s coffers through newly-opened oceanic trade routes. King Phillip II rules over a formidable and extensive global empire. But for Spanish interests in continental Europe, things are starting to unravel. Religious unrest, brewing in the Netherlands since 1566, led a famous nobleman named William of Orange to lead a revolt opposing the unbridled persecution of Calvinists and the inefficiencies of some Spanish governors. Against this background, and in ode to their leader, the world’s...  More >

Silly suits, students, a new academic year

If you see gangs of girls in pink outfits or young men in ties and smart suits... they are probably part of a university initiation ritual. Yes. It is that time again - the new academic year is about to start. Here are some facts and figures about Dutch higher education. 1 Aspiring students in the Netherlands have a choice of 13 universities. Alternatively, they can elect to go to a ‘Hogeschool’ or ‘HBO instelling’ which in English translation magically transforms into a university as well, albeit a University of Applied Sciences. 2 The terms Universiteit and Hogeschool are in the process of becoming protected, as they are in other European countries: The Johan Cruyff University has already changed its name to the Johan Cruyff Academy, for instance. Institutes calling themselves ‘university’ or ‘university of applied science’ and which do not adhere to the conditions can face a fine of over €800,000. Ok, the ‘academy of life’ it is then. 3 Universities...  More >