What future for Amsterdam? Five questions for Denk

Denk is a multiethnic party born in 2014. Its positions are left of the political spectrum with a strong focus on topics of concern for minorities and foreigners. It currently has 3 seats on the national parliament

In the city of Amsterdam housing shortage is a serious issue. How does you party plan to address this topic?

DENK Amsterdam wants to build more social housing and enforce the range of building of 40-40-20 (40% social housing, 40% mid-range, 20% expensive). Which has not been met in any project until now.
Second, the range of salary that can opt for social housing should be widened, because many still can’t afford housing in the mid-range.
Third we want to stop slumlords. We don’t believe expats are driving up the prices, DENK Amsterdam blames the speculators. There are many expats who are not well paid and can’t afford to stay in free sector housing.
They are prone to abuse and exploitation. To end the reign of slumlords DENK Amsterdam wants to implement a residence requirement; if you own a house, you must live in it. It can’t be used for speculation.
And last but not least, as long as there is not more than 40% of social housing in a borough or district there will be no selling of social houses in that area.

What is your plan for traffic managing and public transport? Do you have a special plan for bike mobility?

Public transportation is very important for our constituents. We adhere a fine maze that offers PT close to the users. But the plans that will take effect during the big holiday is more efficient for the GVB, but not for the users of the PT.
With the ‘Noord-Zuid’ line (central subway line from North to South of Amsterdam) it’ll be a fishbone model, leaving non profitable connections prone to discontinuance and many stops will be lifted. And more changes during your journey. It is crippling for older and disability users.
We want the Noord-Zuid line being stretched to Schiphol and subway line 50 stretched to Central Station. This way we create a subway ring around the city. We hope this will relief some of the pain the current changes will cause.
Further, we want an Oost-West line (subway line from East to West of Amsterdam) with connections to neighbouring municipalities like Zaandam, Weesp and Abcoude.
Public transport is also too expensive. We want to cap the prize on PT. People should not feel robbed when using PT. Sometimes it’s even cheaper to use the car than to use PT. It should never be more expansive than motorized private transportation.
Lastly, DENK Amsterdam wants the PT available to the public 24/7 where it won’t be a nuisance for the people in the vicinity.
We’d like to point out that the City is the sole owner of the GVB, so the city can shape the policy on PT not only via the city council.
DENK Amsterdam want to give bikers and pedestrians more room. We also want to have separate lanes for fast traffic (motorized bikes, race bikes) and slow traffic.
At dangerous crossroads bikes and pedestrians must have precedence over motorized vehicles. Connectivity for bikers and pedestrians will be improved by building a bike and pedestrian bridge over the IJ.

Many residents are fed up of the “tourists invasion”. They believe that is no longer a win-win situation: the advantages for the economy are not compensated by the nuisances of trolleys, busies streets and overcrowded shops and venues. A recent report from the magazine Groene Amsterdammer said the tourists don’t actually bring any benefit at all. What is your opinion about? do you agree with this vision? and if yes what do you think is the solution?

DENK Amsterdam won’t blame tourists for the wish to visit our beautiful city. And will keep welcoming them. But there’s more than just the inner city. We want to point out to tourists that Amsterdam is more than the Red Light District, cannabis and 18th century buildings along the canals. There is much more to see outside the inner city and outside the ring. DENK Amsterdam wants to develop the area outside the ring to make it more attractive for tourists. Like the proposed slavery museum, more art development and we want a museum and statue for the migrant workers who contributed on building this country.
We want to distribute the tourists over the whole of the city and offer them more than just the inner city.

The international community is the fastest growing in the Dutch big cities. How do you perceive the presence of this big community in your country?

This is nothing new. For centuries Amsterdam always welcomed foreigners inside its city walls. It is what made Amsterdam, well… Amsterdam.
DENK Amsterdam welcomes everyone in this city. This city has been and always will be internationally oriented. It welcomes many foreign business and has the largest science centre (Science Park) of Europe with many international students. The education centres cater to students and foreign guests.
DENK Amsterdam wants the people of Amsterdam to live together and have the feeling they are Amsterdam. And that we are one. No community left behind. We are against segregation. Our City is a melting pot and you are part of it. That is Amsterdam.

The biggest gap for full integration is the lack of knowledge of Dutch language. As learning the language is not mandatory for EU citizens how do you plan to improve involvement and participation of internationals in the democratic process?

To apply for a job in which the Dutch language is not a professional part of and to be rejected because of the lack of Dutch language skills is discriminatory. It shows internationals are willing to participate, but they are held back. Not because of the language. The biggest gap for full integration is the native Dutchman and the lack of his acceptance that other people born in The Netherlands and internationals here are different, have different cultures and to generally accept who they are. No one should have to change themselves and discard their heritage and customs in order to stay here. This melting pot, as said before, makes what Amsterdam is.
However, this means that you have a responsibility too. Knowledge of the Dutch language is a major benefit to express yourself, enabling to be more participant in the Dutch community and share your culture and beliefs with others. Eventually, the Dutch language is the common ground for us as a single community. Because of that, DENK Amsterdam wants easy access to Dutch language courses at e.g. community centres and create awareness that all inhabitants of the city they have an obligation to participate to help make this city a better place for everyone. That includes participating in the democratic process. The international community has value for our community as a whole and we invite them to take responsibility, make their voices heard and share in the decision-making.


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