Monday 16 May 2022

Opinion pieces, columns and insights into Dutch news and current affairs from key commentators. The views expressed in these columns are the writers’ own. To contribute or request our guidelines, contact editor@dutchnews.nl.

Help! It is summer in the Netherlands and I’m being assimilated

Help! It is summer in the Netherlands and I’m being assimilated

As someone who comes from a place where there’s sunlight in abundance, regular columnist Molly Quell used to be unimpressed with the annual Dutch migration outside as soon as the sun shines. But then something changed.  It’s that time of year. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the Dutch have decamped to the gardens, terraces and parks of the Netherlands. The people of the Netherlands feel the need to soak up a year’s worth of Vitamin D... More >


Why UK lenders are looking to deploy capital in the Netherlands

Why UK lenders are looking to deploy capital in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is poised to experience strong growth in the coming period, and that is making it extra attractive to UK lenders, says Charlie Armstrong, the director of real estate advisory group LEXI Finance. The UK commercial real estate funding market is at a highly competitive point in the cycle. Traditional British-based lenders – who largely hoarded cash during the height of the pandemic – have returned to market with a tangible eagerness for new opportunities. And they are not... More >


The new government’s housing strategy must be more than gesture politics

The new government’s housing strategy must be more than gesture politics

The government’s decision to reduce the role of property values in determining rents is a symbolic gesture which will not help tenants and will hurt individual landlords, says Jasper de Groot, director of rental housing platform Pararius. In the Netherlands, housing rents – in the social housing sector – are determined by using a complicated system based on points. So a property gets points for having outside space, for having a modern kitchen and central heating, as well as its... More >


It’s wedding season and Dutch marriages are based on fairytales

It’s wedding season and Dutch marriages are based on fairytales

Wedding season is upon us and, with the pandemic having wrecked many big days, this summer is seeing an explosion in couples celebrating their nuptials. Before you head off to a Dutch wedding, Molly Quell wants you to prepare yourself to be lied to by the official overseeing this very important and legally binding ceremony.  Dutch wedding traditions are ripe for comedic fodder. The multi-tiered invitation structure. The exhausting all-day celebration (if you’re a top-tier invite.) And let’s not even... More >


The Dutch medical system is terrible in new and creative ways

The Dutch medical system is terrible in new and creative ways

Our regular columnist Molly Quell just wanted to refill a prescription and ended up in a circle of hell even Dante could not have envisioned.  The trouble started over a year ago. I attempted to log into the patient portal to request a repeat prescription. The website informed me that I had no profile. I called the office and, after being on hold for 20 minutes, I was rudely informed I wasn’t a patient at the practice. ‘I’ve been a... More >


The Perfect Protest: Lessons from the frontline

The Perfect Protest: Lessons from the frontline

From recent anti-lockdown protests to artful demonstrations in the country’s cultural venues, Lauren Comiteau learned these lessons from Amsterdam’s Museumplein protests. No. Not the ones on the Museumplein, silly. The ones in it.  You know—the Van Gogh Museum turned barbershop and nail salon and the Royal Concertgebouw-cum-hairdressers. I’d been to all three. And what I learned at the 15,000-strong anti-lockdown, anti-vax, anti-Big Pharma, anti-even-bigger-government and anti-everything protest on the Museumplein a couple Sundays ago was that I should maybe be... More >


Start inquiry into excess deaths now to make better decisions later

Start inquiry into excess deaths now to make better decisions later

The government is inexplicably slow to give the green light to an investigation into the high number of excess deaths in the Netherlands, say probability expert Ronald Meester and health economist Eline van den Broek-Altenburg. On December 1 MPs voted unanimously in favour  of a motion tabled by Pieter Omtzigt requesting an independent scientific inquiry into the current excess mortality figures. So far the cabinet has done nothing to initiate such an inquiry, a remarkable and irresponsible omission in a... More >


Former health minister Hugo de Jonge slips up again

Former health minister Hugo de Jonge slips up again

Former health minister Hugo de Jonge’s tweet, showing him watching last Friday’s coronavirus press conference with the prime minister and his replacement, has enraged Senay Boztas.  When I saw Hugo de Jonge’s tweet – sitting at home, in front of his TV, on the first coronavirus press conference where he wasn’t on the stand – I couldn’t control my outrage. Not that he had shared a private joke with the nation, showing more than a pinprick of disrespect. Not that... More >


It’s January, and that means going dry, but not like that

It’s January, and that means going dry, but not like that

Our regular columnist Molly Quell is having a hard time getting into the mood to mock the Dutch. Everything just seems too depressing.  It’s time for Dry January. No, not that healthy thing where people give up alcohol for the month and act extremely smug about it. Dry how Dutch people cook meat: withered, shriveled and unseasoned. That’s where I am at mentally. I am already not much of a Christmas person. This really isn’t surprising, as I am the... More >


Why you should opt for the National Mortgage Guarantee, if you can

Why you should opt for the National Mortgage Guarantee, if you can

If you are buying a home costing less than the national average, you may well qualify for a special mortgage guarantee, known as the NHG. Mortgage advisor José de Boer explains all. The Nationale Hypotheek Garantie is a very Dutch thing – a sort of insurance, if you will, for people buying a more modest house. It was developed in the last century with the aim of giving home buyers an extra layer of protection in case they were unable... More >


Herding cats and spending big: how Mark Rutte managed to cling to power

Herding cats and spending big: how Mark Rutte managed to cling to power

Mark Rutte could be forgiven for pouring himself a big drink this weekend. After months of intensive negotiations he has – like one of those charity fundraisers who slowly do a marathon in a hundred-kilo diving suit – finally limped across the finish line and managed to piece together a new governing coalition, writes Ben Coates. The outcome of nine months of coalition talks is a four-party alliance which includes his own VVD party, the right-wing CU and CDA, and... More >


Out with racism, in with insulting poems

Out with racism, in with insulting poems

Any international who has survived one Sinterklaas season in the Netherlands is familiar with the dreaded Zwarte Piet debate. (If you’re not, David Sedaris can fill you in.) The pro-blackface Zwarte Piet camp claims it is defending Dutch culture and Dutch history, but really they are only defending grown adults wearing dumb costumes and uncomfortable face paint. Molly Quell thinks that if they wanted to promote Dutch culture, they should stop promoting racism and start advocating for poetry and art... More >


Universities struggling with foreign student numbers have themselves to blame

Universities struggling with foreign student numbers have themselves to blame

A seemingly unstoppable rise in foreign student numbers is threatening to overwhelm Dutch universities. But the problem, professor Annette de Groot says, is largely of their own making. Opting to conduct a big chunk of their degree courses completely in English (71.6% of the total at the last count) Dutch universities have made them irresistible to foreign students. Now they are struggling to cope with the effects of their language policy, which is making the national housing crisis even worse.... More >


Home sweet home: a journey to America in the middle of the pandemic

Home sweet home: a journey to America in the middle of the pandemic

The pandemic has made international travel almost impossible, especially for those going further afield. A few weeks ago, Brandon Hartley returned to his hometown of Portland for the first time in over three years. We were 35,000 feet over Greenland when a mask-less woman bumped into my ankles with her head. This was one of the few scenarios my longtime partner and I hadn’t prepared for while planning our first trip back to Portland in over three years. Plotting how... More >


Give me year-round kruidnoten or the terrorists win

Give me year-round kruidnoten or the terrorists win

Historically, rich Dutch people shoved nutmeg and cinnamon (in disgusting quantities) into dishes during all seasons. There’s nothing inherently wintery about spices that only grow in tropical climates. Forget vaccine mandates, Molly Quell writes, the real injustice is the conspiracy that keeps us from enjoying kruidnoten through the entire year. This weekend, I took my winter coat and my mittens out of storage. The city of Delft strung up its holiday lights. I have begun a list of gift ideas... More >


No need to panic, but NL really should be doing more to curb coronavirus

No need to panic, but NL really should be doing more to curb coronavirus

There may be no need to panic, but the Netherlands has not learned lessons from the past, and is not taking the rise in coronavirus infections seriously enough, writes Ben Coates. In early and mid-October, many Dutch newspapers made for grim reading. ‘In some towns… a third of the population lies sick’, one outlet reported, while another warned rising infections meant ‘in the hospitals there is no more room to take in seriously ill patients’. In the Hague, journalists reported... More >


Stand up for the silent majority: selfish anti-vaxxers are stealing our freedom

Stand up for the silent majority: selfish anti-vaxxers are stealing our freedom

When did the rights of the minority of anti-vaxxers become more important than the rights of the vast majority who are doing the decent thing? asks Robin Pascoe. No-one would ever think nearly 4,000 people a day are being diagnosed with coronavirus in the Netherlands at the moment, there are so few public health measures in place. Social distancing gone, masks worn on public transport only, busy shops and no more queues at the market – it is as if... More >


Big Umbrella has convinced you that you’re made of sugar

Big Umbrella has convinced you that you’re made of sugar

The rainy autumn weather has set in and so has the familiar packing and unpacking of raingear, the shaking of umbrellas by cafe doors and the hoods of raincoats cutting off peripheral vision. Longtime resident Molly Quell thinks Big Umbrella has conned everyone.  A few days ago, I arrived at a bar to meet a friend for a drink. I was soaking wet. As I’d gotten off the tram, the Dutch autumn skies opened up and proceeded to raise the... More >


Government must have the bottle to mend faulty deposit scheme

Government must have the bottle to mend faulty deposit scheme

A legal loophole means retailers can sell drinks in small plastic bottles but don’t have to take the empty bottles back. That is not exactly consumer-friendly,  says Rob Buurman, director of environmental NGO Recycling Netwerk Benelux. From July 1 this year most small plastic bottles have carried a deposit. But during the negotiations over the introduction of the scheme the cabinet scrapped the legal requirement on the part of retailers to take the bottles back. This has already led to... More >


Why international workers in the Netherlands want a home of their own

Why international workers in the Netherlands want a home of their own

Judging by several recent articles, the Dutch press seem to be surprised that international workers are actually buying property in the Netherlands. But the reasons are obvious, says José de Boer from De Boer Financial Consultants. This summer the main Dutch financial newspaper ran an article highlighting the fact that expats are increasingly likely to buy a house in the Netherlands, rather pay the high rents so common in Amsterdam and the other big cities. The experts interviewed for the... More >