Wednesday 19 February 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.

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 >


Wynia’s Week: After the gas ban, the city heat is on

Wynia’s Week: After the gas ban, the city heat is on

  Councils may be blind, but in Purmerend people are wising up to the problems inherent in banning gas and burning wood instead, writes columnist Syp Wynia. Like many a local council, Purmerend wants to be the most sustainable and climate-ambitious local council in the land. And that means it wants to be the first to go gas-free. If local politicians don’t promote the sustainability competition, then wily climate bureaus will. And will it work? The people of Purmerend will... More >


Rain in the Netherlands has a texture it does not have back home

Rain in the Netherlands has a texture it does not have back home

What do you do if you are the Netherlands as a trailing husband while your wife works in a high powered job? Visiting columnist Joe Weeg, who spent time here in 2018, is back in The Hague again. Part 1: Rain Rain in the Netherlands has a certain texture that doesn’t exist back home in Iowa. Here in the Netherlands the rain rarely rages with such thunder and lightning that you decide maybe it would be a good idea to... More >


19 threats to Dutch democracy? Not from the perspective of a foreigner

19 threats to Dutch democracy? Not from the perspective of a foreigner

Ethiopian national and human rights lawyer Tarikua Woldetsadick takes issue with Syp Wynia’s recent claims about specific threats to Dutch democracy, and says his arguments digress into an attack on those very democratic values. To give credit where it is due, Mr Wynia attempts to address a relevant and perhaps timely issue. Is Dutch or indeed global democracy and individual freedom being slowly chipped away at by non-traditional, non-state entities? It is a question that merits serious study and appropriate... More >


Wynia’s Week: Identifying 19 risks to (Dutch) democracy

Wynia’s Week: Identifying 19 risks to (Dutch) democracy

Democracy is on the wane in many countries, and it is not just populism that is to blame. The traditional parties, both on the left and the right of the spectrum must take responsibility, says Syp Wynia. Our rights and freedom are slowly being eroded. A newspaper article containing comments sceptical about climate change is removed from Facebook,  on the recommendation of the editorial team of NU.nl, the country’s largest news site. Nu.nl  has now apparently been given the job... More >


Civilised debate, not mud slinging, is the hallmark of democracy

Civilised debate, not mud slinging, is the hallmark of democracy

Democracy isn’t served by taking a leaf out of the Brexit playbook but by conducting a civilised debate, says professor Reinout Wibier, professor of civil law at Tilburg University. The dramatic developments surrounding Brexit show how easy it is for a civilised country to descend into a situation of paralysing polarisation. The divide between Brexiters on the one hand and Remainers on the other has become so wide that a serious dialogue no longer seems possible. The two camps are... More >


A new ‘war on drugs’ is short sighted and naive

A new ‘war on drugs’ is short sighted and naive

When the Dutch government liberalised cannabis policy in 1976, they understood that the legalisation and regulation of cannabis was actually the best solution, or at least the least bad one. They also knew that legalisation would be highly controversial internationally. Fifteen years earlier, in 1961, the international community, with the US at the forefront decided, on rather questionable grounds, that a number of drugs should be banned. Consequently the Netherlands took a half measure, decriminalising the possession and use, and... More >