Tuesday 07 April 2020

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.

Does the Netherlands have activist judges? They’re just doing their job

Does the Netherlands have activist judges? They’re just doing their job

Judges are not stepping into the role of politicians as some on the right would claim, says professor Barbara Oomen. Rather, they are simply doing what they have been appointed to do. Earlier this month, MPs discussed the latest term Forum voor Democratie leader Thierry Baudet had unearthed from his political philosophy handbook: dichastocracy. The notion of government by judges is not something the average citizen, scientists and politician is overly concerned about but it would be wrong to dismiss... More >


Europe’s seasonal workers are being forgotten in the corona crisis

Europe’s seasonal workers are being forgotten in the corona crisis

The corona crisis affects everyone, not least of which the thousands of Polish and other temporary workers in the Netherlands. They are now losing their jobs and their homes, and are being excluded from financial bail-out schemes. No-one is listening to their cry for help, writes Malgorzata Bos-Karczewska. Stories about EU labour migrants in the Netherlands are always driven by economics. The current big question makes this all too clear: If the Poles don’t come, nobody will harvest the asparagus.... More >


The government needs to tackle social inequality

The government needs to tackle social inequality

The coalition government should stop kowtowing to right-wing politicians and concentrate on tackling social inequality, say Leiden professor Leo Lucassen. Now that the dust has settled on the latest ‘refugee crisis’ the conclusion has to be that the predicted, sometimes apocalyptic, consequences have failed to materialise. Societies in Western Europe have not been disrupted and in Germany, the country which has taken in most refugees by far, most of the 1.2 million immigrants are in work. There are, of course,... More >


Respect democracy: it safeguards our prosperity

Respect democracy: it safeguards our prosperity

Democracy is the safeguard of prosperity. We tamper with it at our peril, warns Coen Teulings, professor of Economics, Institutions and Society at Utrecht University.  From Roman times until the 19th century the average standard of living remained virtually unchanged, and differences in prosperity between countries were minimal as well. We know this thanks to the work done by economic historians Paul Bairoch and Angus Maddison. Around 1830 the income in ‘the West’ (Western Europe, North America and Japan) was... More >



Judges should not lay down the law to politicians

Judges should not lay down the law to politicians

Judges laying down the law to politicians? It should not be allowed, says columnist Syp Wynia. Politicians are worried. Increasingly, the courts are telling them what to do. In the normal course of things, MPs make laws and ministers and junior ministers carry them out. The courts step in when people break these laws. It no longer works like that. Last year the judges of the Council of State decided that Dutch nitrogen emissions policy does not comply with European... More >


As the population grows, we need more labour migrants, not fewer

As the population grows, we need more labour migrants, not fewer

Immigration might be a hot topic at the moment but the Netherlands should limit labour migration at its peril, warns economist Mathijs Bouman. Do you sometimes get the feeling there’s not enough elbow room in the Netherlands? If the national statistics office CBS is right, it will only get more crowded in the next 30 years. There are currently some 17.4 million people living in this country. By 2050 that number will have gone up to 19.3 million. It’s a... More >


Wynia’s Week: Politics is not fragmenting but consolidating

Wynia’s Week: Politics is not fragmenting but consolidating

It’s not that long ago that we had political parties on the right and political parties on the left. In 2020 we seem have a consolidation of parties in the middle and the rest are kept on the fringes, says columnist Syp Wynia.   It’s become common among politicians in the last few years to characterise all parties which have governed at one time or another, or which are considered eligible to take up that responsibility, as occupying ‘the middle... More >


The government has declared war on the self-employed

The government has declared war on the self-employed

The government has declared war on the self-employed, says freelance writer and translator Natasha Cloutier. On Thursday, a long-awaited report commissioned by the Dutch government on the future of the labour market has basically stated that the Netherlands’ 1.3 million self-employed need to be eliminated from the workforce. Many freelance jobs such as the healthcare professional who provides elderly care based on a personalised budget or a musician playing alongside employee-colleagues in an orchestra would therefore no longer be able... More >


A room with no view at all? How not to find a home in Amsterdam

A room with no view at all? How not to find a home in Amsterdam

The experiences of a young Brexit escapee trying to find a place to live in Amsterdam have proved quite an eye-opener. When your own offspring have flown the nest, the rooms they have left behind collect all manner of waifs and strays who need a place to stay. The longest was with us for almost a year while she found her feet after 15 years away from the Netherlands, but most stay a few days while they InterRail around Europe... More >


Media and politicians, get over your pessimism about integration

Media and politicians, get over your pessimism about integration

It’s time for the media and politicians to overcome their pessimism about integration, says Leiden professor Leo Lucassen. Twenty years ago the Netherlands witnessed the rise of Pim Fortuyn. In the wake of his death on May 6 2002, his party Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF) scored 26 seats in the elections. Many were taken completely by surprise by the massive win and the social discontent about immigration and integration that was at the bottom of it. Journalists and commentators, as... More >


Something is not gezellig? You might as well pack up and go home

Something is not gezellig? You might as well pack up and go home

What do you do if you have been sent to live in the Netherlands as a trailing husband, while your wife works in a high powered job? Columnist Joe Weeg, who was here in 2018, has been back again for a short visit. Part 4: Cozy. ‘Joe, it’s not so cozy.’ Really? ‘It’s not so cozy’? They have great fries. And I love their coffee. And look at their apple pie. ‘I’m sorry, but it’s not so cozy,’ repeats my... More >


The Anglicisation of higher education in the Netherlands is typically Dutch

The Anglicisation of higher education in the Netherlands is typically Dutch

The use of English in higher education in the Netherlands is typical of the Dutch outward-looking attitude, say D66 MP Jan Paternotte, and former D66 senator and University of Amsterdam professor Alexander Rinnooy Kan. The Anglicisation of Dutch education is a hot potato that still refuses to cool down. A decade ago University of Groningen professor Auke van der Would warned the Netherlands would become a ‘second rate language’ and in 1993 Tom McArthur used the term ‘Scotlandisation’ and ‘Irlelandisation’... More >


Wynia’s Week: Prime minister Mark Rutte is nearing his sell-by date

Wynia’s Week: Prime minister Mark Rutte is nearing his sell-by date

It is a wise move by Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte to scupper any rumours he might want to stand down and accept an international position. However, his professed attachment to his favourite cafes and Indonesian restaurants in The Hague are not deceiving anyone. We all know that he knows he’ll have to decide sooner rather than later, says commentator Syp Wynia  Tell the public you’re leaving and you’re a lame duck. Your authority wilts, cabals form behind your back... More >


Answering questions about fish, speed dating, and Dutch character

Answering questions about fish, speed dating, and Dutch character

What do you do if you have been sent to live in the Netherlands as a trailing husband, while your wife works in a high powered job? Columnist Joe Weeg, who was here in 2018, is back again for a short visit. Part 3: Fish The tall, strong-looking Dutch woman began her story by telling me about fish. The story suddenly took a right turn into speed dating. And then the darn thing ended up about Dutch character. Her character.... More >


Open letter: Rutte, talk to Kick Out Zwarte Piet about racism

Open letter: Rutte, talk to Kick Out Zwarte Piet about racism

The recent, violent events surrounding anti-Zwarte Piet protesters, and the lack of a response from Mark Rutte, means it is high time the prime minister started a conversation with Kick Out Zwarte Piet, say campaigners Jerry Afriyie, Naomie Pieter, Elvin Rigters, Jessica de Abreu and Mitchell Esajas. Dear Mr Rutte, We are writing to you because of your deafening silence concerning the violence against anti-Black Pete demonstrators and your failure to respond to our invitation to discuss institutional racism in... More >


‘Go North – We gave up the international lifestyle to settle in Groningen’

‘Go North – We gave up the international lifestyle to settle in Groningen’

Wakanyi Hoffman moved to Groningen this summer after more than a decade of hopping around the world, in and out of seven countries on three continents. In this column, she looks at why her family gave up the high life of diplomacy and international organisations to settle in the north of the Netherlands. There is no doubt that someday, the colourful collection of visa stamps decorating our passports will retrace the path of our intrepid travel tales. But in the... More >


 Against English: The Dutch are selling their language very cheaply

 Against English: The Dutch are selling their language very cheaply

On Tuesday, a group of Dutch academics and others published an essay collection entitled Against English – a call to action against the way English is squeezing out Dutch. Niek Pas is one of the people behind the campaign. Only the bell gables I pass on my way to work still speak to me in Dutch. The windows of all shops, bars and restaurants, including the Italian place, are in English.  A lone brown café bravely resist the trend, but... More >


Take the threat of radicalised pro-blackface Piets seriously

Take the threat of radicalised pro-blackface Piets seriously

While opinions about how to modernise the Sinterklaas celebration remain as entrenched as ever, pro-blackface activists are becoming more radicalised, and the threat should be taken seriously at this weekend’s parades, write Liesbeth Hulst and Kees van den Bos. In 2017 a group of pro-Piet activitists prevented a demonstration from taking place during the Sinterklaas parade in Dokkum. In 2108 a number of parades were marred by hooligans intimidating demonstrators. In at least nine local councils, anti-blackface Pete demonstrations were... More >


The girl with the pearl earring is definitely looking at me

The girl with the pearl earring is definitely looking at me

What do you do if you have been sent to live in the Netherlands as a trailing husband, while your wife works in a high powered job? Columnist Joe Weeg, who was here in 2018, is back again for a short visit. Part 2: the Mauritshuis She’s definitely looking at me. Of course, it’s just a trick of the eye. A common phenomenon. We’ve all experienced it. But still. After all the adulation, the paparazzi, the gazillion of hours devoted... More >