Monday 22 July 2019

Opinion pieces, columns and insights into Dutch news and current affairs from key commentators

The Netherlands: a tale of two governments

The Netherlands: a tale of two governments

The longer the process to form a new coalition takes place, the more the Netherlands is becoming a country run by two governments with a shared prime minister, writes Gordon Darroch During the 1950s the Netherlands was famous for having two foreign ministers. When asked to explain this curious situation, one of them, Joseph Luns, is said to have quipped: Als klein land heeft Nederland heel veel buitenland. (‘As a small country, the Netherlands has a great deal of foreign... More >


Dutch national identity goes further than singing the Wilhelmus

Dutch national identity goes further than singing the Wilhelmus

National identity is about more than the national anthem, writes Kim Putters, head of the government’s social policy advisory body SCP. This summer the search for what constitutes the Dutch identity took centre stage once again. A rumour about including the national anthem in the school curriculum as part of the next government’s policy programme got tongues wagging. Opponents responded by protesting that the Dutch colonial past should be given more priority. It never ceases to amaze me how any discussion about... More >


How to go Dutch: the final installment, as those crucial envelopes arrive

How to go Dutch: the final installment, as those crucial envelopes arrive

Six years ago Molly Quell moved to the Netherlands with her husband, an academic, for a short-term project. Now she’s a divorcee, has fallen in love with a Dutch guy and finds herself in the unexpected position of having to integrate. Read the first, second, third and fourth parts of her series. I was working from home on the day the letter arrived. I heard the familiar ka-chink as the post was pushed through the mailbox. I got up from... More >


Dozens of languages disappear, so why not ditch Dutch as well?

Dozens of languages disappear, so why not ditch Dutch as well?

Dozens of languages disappear every year, and English is taking over, so why not bite the bullet and wave bye bye to Dutch? suggests Leiden University professor of Chinese Linguistics Rint Sybesma. The English language takeover of Dutch higher education is creating all sorts of problems. We only need to look at the latest report on the subject. It’s doing the quality of our education no favours at all. The linguistic abilities of both teachers and students are failing to... More >


The Netherlands has an unhealthy obsession with statistics

The Netherlands has an unhealthy obsession with statistics

Rankings praising the Dutch health system abound in the media but what do the results really say about the Netherlands?, asks DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. If you read the Dutch press, it cannot have escaped your attention that not so long ago the Dutch health service was again ranked one of the best in the world. We foreigners may moan about over-inquisitive receptionists when visiting our family doctor and the fondness for paracetamol, but in terms of our health we... More >


Male circumcision is ‘violation of bodily integrity’ and should be banned

Male circumcision is ‘violation of bodily integrity’ and should be banned

A ban on male circumcision should be put on the political agenda, say Wouter van Erkel and Koen Sijtsema of D66’s youth wing Jonge Democraten. In the Netherlands thousands of boys, both Jewish and Muslim, are circumcised for religious reasons every year. Estimates range between 10,000 and 15,000 circumcisions carried out in this country annually. Campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali highlighted the issue years ago but every time circumcision is subject of a public debate, politicians shy away from putting it... More >


The new Dutch cabinet must get its Economy 4.0 act together

The new Dutch cabinet must get its Economy 4.0 act together

The new cabinet can only be successful if its economic policy is geared towards the new economy, or 4.0, say economists Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend The unstoppable progress of digitalisation and new technologies in the next few decades will ring in huge changes around the world. This combination, also called Economy 4.0, in tandem with globalisation and the impact of measures to combat climate change, will revolutionise economies everywhere. Its impact is already becoming clear: companies who... More >


The Netherlands must be seen to be open for business: D66

The Netherlands must be seen to be open for business: D66

The Netherlands has to protect its own companies but must be seen to open for business at the same time, says D66 MP Jan Paternotte. An open economy is good for the Netherlands. At the same time we must prevent Dutch companies from becoming an easy prey for American companies on a shopping spree. A compulsory cooling-off period in the case of a hostile takeover, as suggested by former CEOs Jan Hommen and Hans Weijers, would be a good way... More >


It’s time for a cabinet without the CDA: Marianne Thieme

It’s time for a cabinet without the CDA: Marianne Thieme

The Christian Democrats are never going to support real green policies and it time they should be cut out of the cabinet formation process, writes Marianne Thieme, leader of the pro-animal PvdD No matter how often it was suggested that Edith Schippers and the cabinet negotiators from the VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks were creating the ‘greenest cabinet ever’ it was clear from the outset that GroenLinks and the CDA were never going to see eye to eye. The differences... More >


What the Dutch papers say about insulting women, Jewish traditions and young Turks

What the Dutch papers say about insulting women, Jewish traditions and young Turks

Introducing a new DutchNews.nl regular, a round-up of some of the week’s best or most provocative columns. This week we tackle insulting women as entertainment for boys, the way politicians harp on about the Netherlands Jewish-Christian tradition and why young Dutch Turks voted to give president Erdogan more powers. Insulting women Micro biologist and NRC columnist Rosanne Herzberger takes on Telegraaf Media’s website Dumpert.nl which features a show called DumpertReeten (Dumpert arses) in which ‘a couple of men children are... More >


Working together is a key part of the Dutch psyche

Working together is a key part of the Dutch psyche

Working together to reach consensus is one of the essences of being Dutch. No wonder then that even at school children learn all about making deals with their peers, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe The Netherlands is now in the middle of a long and complicated process to create a new coalition government. The Dutch political system invariably creates coalitions and the process can take months and months. Manifesto points are ditched, compromises reached, trade-offs agreed and finally the parties... More >


Holiday rental giant Airbnb is harming Amsterdam’s communities

Holiday rental giant Airbnb is harming Amsterdam’s communities

Airbnb is becoming greedy. It needs to invest in Amsterdam for the long-term benefit of its communities, not just for short term financial gain, says Leiden University’s David Zetland. Airbnb is a popular service for connecting tourists who want a cheaper place to stay in a city with ‘hosts’ willing to give them a room or a flat to stay in. Oh, did I say ‘give’? Sorry, I meant ‘rent.’ Like Facebook with its claims of helping you communicate with... More >


Dutch election: anti-rights rhetoric goes mainstream despite Wilders’ defeat

Dutch election: anti-rights rhetoric goes mainstream despite Wilders’ defeat

Last week’s general election in the Netherlands was one of the most closely watched in years. But the fact that Geert Wilders’ radical right party failed to make major gains does not mean he has not had an impact, writes Anna Timmerman of Human Rights Watch. While most of the world was focused only on one party, the radical right populist Party for Freedom (PVV) and its leader Geert Wilders, the Dutch cast their votes widely across 13 parties, two of... More >


Geert Wilders and Donald Trump can learn from Marine Le Print

Geert Wilders and Donald Trump can learn from Marine Le Print

Economist Mathijs Bouman thinks The Donald and The Geert could learn something from Marine Le Pen. It’s easy to come up with populist schemes. But how to pay for them? Donald Trump wants to lower taxes and invest in infrastructure at the same time. Geert Wilders is going to lower the state pension age, abolish the health insurance own risk element as well as lower income tax and halve vehicle tax. Meanwhile in France, Marine Le Pen wants to lower... More >


Expatriate life has made me a fickle friend

Expatriate life has made me a fickle friend

There’s something cruelly disposable about the expat friend and it is easy to become pragmatic about dealing with their comings and goings, says Deborah Nicholls-Lee. I have adopted a sort of no-strings-attached attitude when it comes to expat friendships; we can see each other but I can’t promise commitment. They are transient, itinerant types who will love you and leave you, so why invest in the relationship? And there’s always someone more interesting just getting off the plane. Cold nonchalance... More >


It is almost impossible to tell a jihadist from an asylum seeker

It is almost impossible to tell a jihadist from an asylum seeker

It’s very difficult to tell a jihadi from a genuine asylum seeker and the government should acknowledge the fact, say criminologists Joris van Wijk and Maarten Bolhuis. After the terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, the Dutch are also wondering whether the government is doing enough to identify jihadists among asylum seekers, especially at a time when the government inspectors have established that screening is inadequate. ‘We’ll pick out the terrorists at a later stage,’ the then justice... More >


Dutch would be world champions with a 60% income tax rate

Dutch would be world champions with a 60% income tax rate

The proposals to raise taxes for companies and high earners which the left-wing parties have included in their election programmes are out of step with current trends and should be ditched, say economists Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend. The election date is drawing near and campaigns have kicked off. Important issues include health care, immigration, integration, security, jobs and pensions. The parties on the left of the spectrum are making efforts to enter higher taxes on the election... More >


How to go Dutch: The waiting continues as the stakes are unexpectedly raised

How to go Dutch: The waiting continues as the stakes are unexpectedly raised

Five years ago Molly Quell moved to the Netherlands with her husband, an academic, for a short-term project. Now she’s single, has fallen in love with the country and finds herself in the unexpected position of having to integrate. Read the first, second and third parts of her series. Well, I did it. I have officially passed all five sections of my inburgeringsexamen. Four language sections (reading, writing, speaking and listening) and the infamous culture exam. Before anyone jumps in... More >


Nice work if you can get it – no wonder so many 20-somethings still live at home

Nice work if you can get it – no wonder so many 20-somethings still live at home

Most people in their early 20s are not financially independent – which is hardly surprising when you consider how few of them have real jobs, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. A while ago Dutch newspaper Trouw published a report which found that only 25% of 20 to 25-year-olds in the Netherlands can support themselves financially nowadays, compared with 45% at the turn of the millennium. As a parent of two sons in that age group, I can only nod in agreement... More >


The strange death of the Dutch Labour Party

The strange death of the Dutch Labour Party

The Dutch Labour party (PvdA) might be part of the current coalition government, but its support has plummeted since the last election. Gordon Darroch examines the party’s collapse. Just before Christmas the Dutch parliament gave Diederik Samsom the kind of send-off reserved for much-loved colleagues who are moving on after a spat with the management. Most MPs joined in a standing ovation for the departing Labour (PvdA) leader, who was praised by parliamentary chair (and party colleague) Khadija Arib as ‘indefatigable and... More >