Friday 05 March 2021

Mandatory Zwarte Piet blackface proposal rejected by MPs

Dutch MPs have rejected a proposal by the extreme-right PVV to mandate that Zwarte Piet has a completely blacked-up face, reports the Telegraaf.

On Thursday, MPs Martin Bosma and Machiel de Graaf proposed that rainbow Piets should be banned and that municipal councils could only organise Sinterklaas festivities if they ensured St Nicholas’s helpers had fully black or brown faces.

In recent years the Dutch tradition of dressing up these clown figures in black make-up, red lips, afro wigs and – sometimes – gold earrings has become increasingly controversial, dubbed discriminatory by bodies including a UN committee and the Netherlands’ children’s ombudsman.

But home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk told the house on Thursday that the PVV’s proposed ban: ‘is not what this government is about.’ He claimed that only in North Korea are there similar rules, adding: ‘It does not fit into an open, democratic society.’

Bosma claims that there is a ‘war’ against Zwarte Piet that is part of a ‘wider offensive’ against Dutch traditions, but only the PVV supported his proposal in parliament.

Kees Verhoeven of the liberal democratic D66 party – the Telegraaf writes – wondered whether they would soon be ruling on the colour of Easter eggs.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.