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A naturalised expat's view of Dutch life and politics

Step out of the shadow of Zwarte Piet. Orange is the new black

By Nicola Chadwick (@amsternic)

Dutch politics blogger Nicola Chadwick reflects on the outcome of the September 12 election.A court ruled on Thursday that the character of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) stereotypes black people and therefore infringes on the private lives of a section of Dutch society as defined under article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights. The campaigners in the courtroom cheered. But most people may be wondering why we are discussing the winter celebration of Sinterklaas in the middle of the summer. The ruling leaves Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van de Laan with a problem, as within six weeks he has to reissue the permit for the traditional arrival of St Nicholas in November.

During a hastily organized press conference the mayor was clearly irritated. Hadn’t he been in talks in recent months with various parties on how to settle the seemingly intractable dispute between traditionalists on one side and anti-racism campaigners on the other? Pete will in future have to be less black and less servile, he conceded. He will have to be on a more equal footing with his holiness St Nick.

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Read more: Step out of the shadow of Zwarte Piet. Orange is the new black

Europe's unpopular politicians could do with a Eurovision-style revival

By Nicola Chadwick (@amsternic)

Dutch politics blogger Nicola Chadwick reflects on the outcome of the September 12 election.In the run-up to the European Parliament elections on May 22, none of the parties wants to appear too keen on Europe. The EU is not sexy. In 1952 two polls in the Netherlands showed that over 90 percent of the population backed a united Europe. But since then its popularity has dwindled. Who knows: maybe the rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia will remind Europeans that peace and stability are not to be taken for granted. Or will it be the Eurovision Song Contest that warms the cockles of our continental sentiments?

National governments often blame Europe for unpopular measures. The worldwide economic crisis has been firmly shoved in the shoes of the euro, but Europeans will never know how bad the crisis would have been if Eurozone countries did not have a common currency. What is clear is that introducing a common currency without political monitoring was a mistake. The question is where to go now: forwards or back?

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Read more: Europe's unpopular politicians could do with a Eurovision-style revival

Wilders stole D66's thunder on election night but his words have come back to bite him

By Nicola Chadwick (@amsternic)

Dutch politics blogger Nicola Chadwick reflects on the outcome of the September 12 election.As predicted, the biggest winners of Wednesday's municipality election were the Democrats D66. The progressive-liberal party took traditional Labour Party strongholds like Groningen and Amsterdam as well as several other cities. But the losses were not limited to the social democrats: their coalition partners, the Liberal VVD party, had a poor showing too. The only surprise in the municipal elections was that the Christian Democrats held on to most of their municipal seats in spite of poor showings in the pre­election polls and even the first prognoses. It means the Christian Democrats still have the biggest number of local council seats across the country.

The Socialist Party built on its previous successes by fielding more candidates in more towns than ever.  The unsung winners of the night were the local parties, which also took many VVD and Labour seats up and down the country.

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Read more: Wilders stole D66's thunder on election night but his words have come back to bite him