With just days until the vote, it’s still difficult to orient ourselves amongst the maze of programs, policies and proposals. For certain, only those owning a Dutch passport will be able to vote, but the decisions taken by the politicians they vote for will affect the everyday lives of all those livings in the Netherlands, including the international community.
In collaboration with the Stemkijker project we analysed the proposals of the VVD, CDA, Groen Links, SP and PvdD political parties, each with a good chance to join the future government coalition. Stemkijker, coordinated by David Voute, consists of a series of short interviews with leaders and candidates of prominent Dutch parties, covering specific themes of the current election campaign of particular interest to internationals.
Visie op Nederland (A Vision of Netherlands)
The VVD (Conservatives) is the most diplomatic. The candidate Klaas Dijkhoff expressed how the Netherlands is a beautiful country, full of people ready and willing to improve it. However, he said, “The government should ensure that no one violates the norms and values of this country.”
GroenLinks and PvdD are more concerned about the nation’s social make-up. According to Kathalijne Buitenweg, candidate for the GroenLinks (left ‘red-green’) “The rich are getting richer […] We want a country in which we don’t scream at each other but one that listens to on another.’’
She continues pointing the finger to the loss in potential jobs, and promises that her party will create at least 100.000 new jobs. The environment is important too – the candidate commits herself to a decrease in CO2 emissions and for more sustainable agriculture.
There are similar proposals from Marianne Thieme, from the PvdD (Social Democrats): “A society in which people have attention for each other”, and above all a country which takes care of the planet -there isn’t “a plan B, because there is no Planet B.” And how to reach these goals? With good education and teamwork, providing the courage to change when it’s necessary.
Sybrand Buma from the CDA (Christian Democrats) describes a moral crisis throughout the country. He reports the unfair job conditions, and a health care plan that doesn’t work properly. He promises real solutions for immigration and integration, and he declares: “it’s time for a moral revolution.”
The SP (Socialist Party), through Emile Roemer, uses a slogan nowadays very familiar: ‘’We want to give the power back to the people.’’ The problem, according to the socialists, is in living together. Something is not working in our way of staying together: “We shouldn’t live in a community as rivals but as good colleagues or neighbors.’’ For this reason, according to the candidate, it’s necessary to point on what everybody uses and shares: “health care and security.”
All the candidates recognize the moral duty of helping those who are forced to escape from war and social conflict, but how to face the problem changes from party to party.
The CDA and VVD are the most worried. If on the one hand it’s necessary help these people, they say, on the other hand it’s important to protect European borders, and “not when those people have already arrived in the Netherlands” underlines Dijkhoff from the VVD.
Buma from the CDA sympathises with those who escape from violence, but he encourages those who come from countries which are now in peace to go back and help the social reconstruction.
GroenLinks hopes for a more equal distribution of refugees in Europe. For the candidate Buitenweg, team work between the member states is the only solution. Regarding the Netherlands, language and work are key for integration: ‘’From day one, refugees will get the chance to learn Dutch”. The PvdD agrees, and highlights how it’s important to work even on the condition of the planet, in order to avoid future migration crises related to the climate and hunger.
The candidate of the SP is the only one to discuss “labor immigration”, related above all to people from Eastern Europe. He suggests a system of work permission, in order to protect immigrants and unemployed Dutch people.
Zorg (Health Care)
Healthcare in the Netherlands is, due to the complex scheme of insurance, a very important and urgent topic.
All five parties agree about the need to improve the health care system, the bureaucratic process, and about the fact that often those who pay are indeed the sickest people. A common point is to take more care of the elderly in care homes.
The VVD is the one who is less emphatic for change. Dijkhoff declares: “I’m proud that health insurance is available for everybody.”
GroenLinks and SP would like to erase the mandatory ‘own risk’ contribution, Roemer for the SP is really clear about that: “’We want to come up with a national care fund […] We want to remove the own contribution.’’
GroenLinks agrees. Taxes and wealthier people should pay, not the sick. Buitenweg declares that the GroenLinks wants to give a €1000 premium to each for health expenses. The CDA partially agrees – a lower “own risk” would be enough for them, provided that insurance companies have less power: “less market more solidarity”.
“To prevent is better than to cure” says Thime from the PvdD, who also ask for less power given to the health insurance companies. But she also offers practical advice, saying that the government should invest more in the healthy food, impose high taxes on junk food, and place no tax at all on fruit and vegetables.
Nederland in the Wereld (the Netherlands in the World)
The last consideration is the Netherlands and its international relations.
The PvdD has clear ideas: “no free trade.” It’s necessary to work together on the care of the earth, on human rights and on the widespread availability of basic needs and services. The candidate points the finger against her country: “It is absurd that the Netherlands is a tax paradise for multinational corporations.”
The SP, CDA and the VVD have similar programs. They all are concerned about tense international relations, above all in the Middle East and risks of consequent terrorism. As a result, they all wish to invest more in defence and on greater border control. In general, they agree to be part of Europe, even if there may be the need to “refresh the European values” according to Dijkhoff of the VVD. Nonetheless, according to the leaders of these three parties – between them representing the popular points of view of the political centre, right and left wing – Europe should focus on problems common to the Union as a whole; the Netherlands should be left alone to deal with its own issues of work, pensions and education. Roemer, for the SP, declares: “We gave too much power to Bruxelles over the last years.”
Buitenweg of the GroenLinks believes in the Europe Union, but she would like to see better teamwork: “We want a Europe which is not about budget deficits, but cares more about people.’’ Additionally, GroenLinks would like to invest more in international cooperatives to help developing countries, promising a total of €2.1 billion if elected.