Monday 22 July 2019

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

I’m tolerant – and don’t tell me otherwise

I’m tolerant – and don’t tell me otherwise

Think you’re no stranger to the pitfalls of cognitive bias? Think again, says social psychologist Marjoka van Doorn. Pitfall 1: Intolerant? It’s them, not me! When I was writing my PhD thesis on tolerance, people would frequently come to me with stories of intolerance in others: Muslims repressing women, PVV members protesting against immigration, civil servants refusing to marry same-sex couples. Why not write a thesis about that, they would ask rather pointedly. As I was researching intolerance towards Muslims in... More >


Short-haul flights? Take the train instead

Short-haul flights? Take the train instead

Tens of thousands of people will be heading back to their homeland from the Netherlands for the Christmas break. And train services must be brought up to scratch to compete with airlines, says Liesbeth van Tongeren, deputy chairwoman of the parliamentary GroenLinks party ‘I would question whether flying to and from Barcelona for €30 is socially acceptable,’ Schiphol director Jos Nijhuis recently said in the NRC. ‘Personally I think it isn’t. I am in favour of stronger competition from fast... More >


Reform the EU and ditch the euro, says SP leader Emile Roemer

Reform the EU and ditch the euro, says SP leader Emile Roemer

Far from being a unifying force the euro has turned out to be a dividing one, breaking down social and democratic rights, writes Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer. At the start of  December 2010, the leaders of 10 European countries came to Maastricht to overhaul Europe. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union and a steady move towards complete economic, monetary and political union was started. The Maastricht Treaty became solely about budget deficit numbers and national debt numbers. Countries... More >


The hell of finding a home to rent in the Netherlands

The hell of finding a home to rent in the Netherlands

Attempting to rent a home in the Netherlands turned Julia Corbett into a paranoid spammer with stalker tendencies thrown in. She explains how the rot set in. After not one, two or three, but four properties slipped from my fingers I can safely say I have experienced the housing hell in the Netherlands. Our adventure began when my Dutch partner returned home after some years in England and I became a student in the Netherlands. It has been a more bumpy start than expected after... More >


How a day trip to Amsterdam turned into a confrontation with death

How a day trip to Amsterdam turned into a confrontation with death

A day trip to Amsterdam to catch a film and do some Christmas shopping ended up becoming a train journey Brandon Hartley will never forget. It was just another perfectly normal Sunday. I went up to Amsterdam to see a movie and buy a few early Christmas presents. As the sun was setting, I joined a few hundred people waiting on Platform 1 at Amsterdam Central to cram themselves and all their shopping bags onto a crowded train. I managed... More >


Trump, Zwarte Piet and how to prepare for prime minister Wilders

Trump, Zwarte Piet and how to prepare for prime minister Wilders

Election Day 2016. Too bad America won’t have its first female President. But we hope you enjoy America’s first president who’s legally insane, writes Greg Shapiro. Congratulations America, you just had your own Brexit moment. And – in classic American fashion – it was bigger and badder. Yes, the Brexit campaign featured misinformation and xenophobia. But the Trump campaign had all that plus p***y grabbing, pathological lying and Russia-mania! And in America – just like in Britain – on election... More >


For the Dutch, wearing a bike helmet would be a cultural affront

For the Dutch, wearing a bike helmet would be a cultural affront

While in Amsterdam as a visiting professor at the VU University, Clay Small realised the superiority of Dutch culture when compared to the US is best illustrated by their attitudes to bikes. Sure there are differences in the size of our countries. One’s a socialist society, the other a capitalist bastion. The Dutch painstakingly preserve their 17th- century art and row houses while we remain ever ready to move on. So what if the Dutch citizens of all colours and... More >


Lodewijk Asscher: Ignore real injustice at your peril

Lodewijk Asscher: Ignore real injustice at your peril

The one lesson to be learned from Brexit and Trump is that ignoring real injustice comes at a price, says social affairs minister and Labour leadership contender Lodewijk Asscher. The results of the US elections will be scrutinised for a long time to come but one thing is clear: the left must never again humiliate or disregard voters. Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’ was more than just a slip of the tongue. What it showed was a an unwillingness to understand... More >


What happened when fraudsters put my home on Airbnb

What happened when fraudsters put my home on Airbnb

Living in a foreign city, away from family and friends, means you get a steady stream of visitors. But not everyone turning up at Deborah Nicholls-Lee’s home has been expected. When you live in a city as beautiful as Amsterdam you get lots of house guests from all over the world, but on previous occasions the guests were known to me. So I was surprised when one Saturday in October a Korean couple with a toddler appeared on my doorstep and announced that... More >


The government must get on with energy transition, urge CEOs

The government must get on with energy transition, urge CEOs

The government must get its skates on when it comes to energy transition or the climate and the economy will suffer, according to the CEOs of Shell Nederland, Rotterdam port and energy firm Eneco, among others. The Netherlands finds itself at an important crossroads: are we going to postpone the decision to achieve sustainable energy management or are we going to step up efforts to make energy transition happen? We, the CEOs of a number of large energy sector corporations... More >


Bringing back conscription would be a light version of slavery

Bringing back conscription would be a light version of slavery

The Christian Democrats should stop banging on about bringing back military service. It’s not good for the economy and not good for the hapless youngsters who have to do it, writes economist Mathijs Bouman. Parents, lock up your 18 year-olds: Sybrand Buma is coming to get them. The CDA leader presented his manifesto this week and a prominent part of the Christian Democrats’ programme is a re-introduction of conscription, not just for boys but girls too. Apart from the army,... More >


Government urged to invest in science: Nobel prizes come at a price

Government urged to invest in science: Nobel prizes come at a price

Invest in science or those Nobel prizes may well become a thing of the past, the Netherlands’ leading Dutch scientific organisations are warning. The fact that Ben Feringa won the Nobel prize for chemistry is a huge boost for Dutch science. But a coincidence it is not. A prize of this magnitude is the result of decades of investment in the lengths and breadths of scientific research. The Dutch scientific community is proud of its home grown Nobel laureate, a... More >


How to go Dutch: Every time I pass an exam I lose an excuse to speak English

How to go Dutch: Every time I pass an exam I lose an excuse to speak English

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 and second parts of her series here. I was honestly terrified that as I sat down to write the third piece in this series, I would have to confess that I had failed the inburgeren examen. In fact, if... More >


And they’re off: a six month election campaign started with the budget

And they’re off: a six month election campaign started with the budget

Tuesday’s budget was a predictable good news story and the launch of a six-month long election campaign, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe So, what a surprise! We’ll all be better off in election year. If last year’s budget was all about treading water and waiting to see what the economic upturn would bring, this year’s is the coalition’s last before the general election next March. Little wonder then that the emphasis is on boosting spending power across the board and... More >


Want to become Dutch (again)? This government is making it harder

Want to become Dutch (again)? This government is making it harder

It is incomprehensible that the government is pressing ahead with its plans to increase the residency requirement to become Dutch from five to seven years and is continuing its crusade against Dutch citizens who live abroad, writes Eelco Keij. With parliamentary elections set to take place in March 2017, the current coalition government – an alliance between the PvdA and VVD – entered the election season by giving the finger to foreign nationals who want to become Dutch citizens. They... More >


The Dutch are a pragmatic folk when it comes to death

The Dutch are a pragmatic folk when it comes to death

The Dutch are a pragmatic lot when it comes to many things in life – and death is no exception either, says DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe The Netherlands’ approach to euthanasia always generates a massive postbag on DutchNews.nl – hardly surprising when you consider the emotion that death brings with it. But for the Dutch themselves, euthanasia is an extremely rational choice. This was brought home to me recently when a friend told me about a bizarre phone call he... More >


Jeroen Dijsselbloem: Corporate bonuses must come down

Jeroen Dijsselbloem: Corporate bonuses must come down

Executive pay at companies in which the government has a stake is being reined in, but private sector bonuses are on the up and this needs to change, writes finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem in Thursday’s Volkskrant. The cabinet is currently finalising its policy on purchasing power. Although the economy is doing better, purchasing power is still falling behind. Senior executive salaries, on the other hand, have been firmly on the up. In 2015 senior executive salaries at Dutch companies rose... More >


Please don’t bring the Olympics to Amsterdam

Please don’t bring the Olympics to Amsterdam

The Olympics are tainted and leave countries in debt, so please don’t bring them to Amsterdam, writes cultural historian Thomas von der Dunk. As the Dutch were bagging golds in Rio, the attention of the media became increasingly focused on the sporting performances themselves. The number of stories about the dubious context in which they were taking place dwindled with every medal. It was only to be expected: sports is politics but as soon as ‘our’ golden boys and girls... More >


The Netherlands under Wilders is a dismal prospect, and not just for Muslims

The Netherlands under Wilders is a dismal prospect, and not just for Muslims

We might have hoped we could wait until the third week of September, when Parliament reconvenes, for the grim business of the Dutch election campaign to begin. But Geert Wilders is not a man to run to anybody else’s timetable, writes Gordon Darroch. On Thursday evening Wilders presented, through the mediums of Facebook and Twitter, a draft version of his manifesto for next March. If the opening gambit is any guide, it promises to be an ugly contest, tinged with the... More >


Yuri the Terrible and Maurits the Humourless

Yuri the Terrible and Maurits the Humourless

Comedian Youp van ‘t Hek thinks Olympic hopefuls should be able to get away with a tipple or two. I can’t resist another look at that hilarious YouTube clip that showed the NOC*NSF  a completely sozzled Erica Terpstra in the studio with Edwin Evers. Vancouver 2010. Erica had just had a liquid lunch with the then still heir to the throne Prince Pils. I liked her for it and I liked her even better when she drunkenly explained what the... More >