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A naturalised expat's view of Dutch life and politics

Changes afoot for the king and Zwarte Piet as Wilders stands his ground

By Nicola Chadwick (@amsternic)

Dutch blogger Nicola Chadwick gives a naturalised expat's view on life and politics in the Netherlands.

Once again Geert Wilders, the leader of the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), is to be tried for discrimination and incitement of hate for the chants of “Fewer, fewer, fewer Moroccans” that rang out on local election night last March. Perhaps they were designed to deflect attention from the fact that the party lost ground in the only two municipalities it contested – The Hague and Almere. Or the fact that it had made no progress in the past four years as it fielded no new candidates in other municipalities. Wilders knew he was overstepping the mark, because before getting the whole audience to chant, he said “I shouldn’t say this because people will file complaints with the police against me…”

At the moment it seems like the world is on fire when you read the news. Unrest in Ukraine, the rise of IS in Iraq and Syria, and the ebola outbreak in Africa. Nevertheless it’s domestic issues that are at the front of people’s minds. I’m surprised Wilders hasn’t been blamed for single-handedly recruiting more Dutch Muslims for IS than anyone else. The polarisation he has caused by constantly reminding Dutch people with a Moroccan background that they somehow do not belong in this country is partly behind the exit of a group of young disenchanted men to war zones in Syria and Iraq.

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Rutte's budget tries to find local solutions to global problems in a not so brave new world

By Nicola Chadwick (@amsternic)

Dutch blogger Nicola Chadwick gives a naturalised expat's view on life and politics in the Netherlands.It’s 200 years since the first Speech from the Throne was delivered by a Dutch king. This may explain why the royals arrive in a horse-drawn carriage decorated with scenes of slavery. After all, slavery was only abolished 150 years ago. Prinsjesdag, as it is known, or budget day, falls on the third Tuesday in September and is steeped in acquired traditions, just like Sinterklaas. Schoolchildren in The Hague are given the day off to watch the monarch ride through the Netherlands’ political capital in the aforementioned golden carriage. Women politicians wear hats, which are increasingly an opportunity to make a non-verbal political statement.

Jokes circulated before the event that Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), may even don a floppy Black Pete hat with a feather in it. They stopped short of suggesting he might black up, as that would have taken the joke too far. Earlier this week the self-proclaimed leader of free speech announced he wanted to impose legislation on municipalities to force them to keep Black Pete black, as well as preserving the traditional songs with their controversial lyrics intact. It’s funny that the man who bleaches his hair to conceal his Indonesian roots is calling for blackface to be enshrined in law.

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Read more: Rutte's budget tries to find local solutions to global problems in a not so brave new world

After a hot, turbulent summer, it's time for cool heads to take the lead

By Nicola Chadwick (@amsternic)

Dutch politics blogger Nicola Chadwick reflects on the outcome of the September 12 election.It may have been a hot summer, but events in the past few months have cast a cold, dark shadow over the world. Prime Minister Mark Rutte had only just gone on holiday when Flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam Schiphol airport and was shot out of the sky, apparently by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people. Most of them were Dutch nationals.

While the prime minister dashed back from his holiday in Germany, foreign minister Frans Timmermans managed to strike the right diplomatic tone, giving priority to bringing home the dead and taking the lead in the investigation. Later the Dutch government was praised for its handling of the matter.

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Read more: After a hot, turbulent summer, it's time for cool heads to take the lead