Monday 15 August 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.

You can pry the handlebars from my cold dead hands

You can pry the handlebars from my cold dead hands

Our regular columnist Molly Quell annoyed Dutch cycling enthusiasts when she mentioned Amsterdam cycling culture on Twitter, and she sees some parallels with politics in her homeland.  I made the mistake recently of tweeting about cycling in Amsterdam. Specifically, an off-handed joke about how absolutely unhinged cyclists in the country’s capital are, after I watched a young woman career through an intersection against the red light, cutting off an Albert Heijn delivery truck, while balancing a beer crate on her... More >


Street life in Leiden: The big, bad, bureaucratic bench battle

Street life in Leiden: The big, bad, bureaucratic bench battle

It may look harmless and perfectly benign, but this bench has tormented dozens of residents in the centre of Leiden for over a decade. It was 11:30am on a sunny morning last July when a woman dropped her pants and attempted to use one of our front windows as a toilet. She had been drinking on a nearby public bench for at least an hour. My partner and I stood in our living room a few feet away, aghast, as... More >


Wait and see or take the plunge: Is now the right time to buy a house?

Wait and see or take the plunge: Is now the right time to buy a house?

With interest rates and inflation rising, some people now expect house prices to start coming down and are adopting a wait and see attitude before they buy. But mortgage advisor José de Boer says there is no time like the present to take the plunge. I am often asked at the moment if it is still the right time to buy a house, given that mortgage rates continue to rise and inflation is mounting too. My answer is always the... More >


Give everyone the option of becoming a dual national

Give everyone the option of becoming a dual national

Last month 102-year-old Canadian resident André Hissink hit the headlines. ‘WWII veteran, 102, gets back Dutch nationality after 70 years‘, Dutch News reported at the time. But what is great news for Mr Hissink only highlights the injustice done to so many people who wish to combine being Dutch with another nationality, says  Eelco Keij. Some among us might have shed a tear when we saw André Hissink’s delight at becoming Dutch again. How wonderful! Who would not be happy... More >


This is the summer of waiting in line, so let’s bring back Covid queueing

This is the summer of waiting in line, so let’s bring back Covid queueing

With long lines everywhere this summer, our regular columnist Molly Quell thinks we should bring back the Covid-proof queues. I watched with fascination and horror on Friday night as a near-riot broke out on my plane as passengers attempted to disembark. The flight was more than an hour delayed and numerous people were late for connecting flights. Stress levels were already running high, as lines in security had been long and airport cafes shut, all due of course to personnel... More >


Long live my ancient Nokia and its limited message storage

Long live my ancient Nokia and its limited message storage

Like Mark Rutte, Senay Boztas has for many years deleted text messages from her ancient Nokia. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Reader, I have an ancient Nokia. I regularly delete text messages. This is because it runs out of memory and then when some cranky security system is texting me with an access code, it doesn’t arrive unless I have deleted most things from the system. I’d like to say that it’s a Nokia 301, in excellent company... More >


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 >