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is the netherlands becoming a less livable place?

according to the dutchnews, which i still read occasionally, there will be further cuts in the field of education in the netherlands. the budgets of the special schools for the students with learning difficulties are being cut, and some of these schools are going to be closed. that is pity.

netherlands was used to be known as a welfare state, providing many different kinds of support for its citizens. this image is decaying nowadays. i have heard about financial cuts in social services and education. but not yet heard about any cuts in security or military. cutting the financial support of the needy, and continuing to support the most powerful sectors of the state? no this does not seem fair. this is not a citizen-friendly image of a welfare state. here, i only see a state protecting its own raison d’être. (inner voice: can any state be citizen-friendly on earth?)

few years ago, i was thinking that living in the netherlands for a couple of years, or even a decade, would be a nice idea for me. now, i would say no. no, thanks. but i could still be buitenpromovendus. thanks.

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this thesis thing.. th th th..

May 15, 2011 2 comments

Warning: terribly boring content. Scratches from the final part of my thesis. (although there is still a lot to complete in the earlier parts)

My thesis subject has evolved and evolved and evolved and ended up being protest vote and non-voting. Non-voting is self-evident. Protest vote is voting for radical parties on either edges of political spectrum. In the dutch case, it is PVV on the right, and the SP on the left.

Now, I am looking at the relationship between representation of social classes by political parties and electoral behavior. Representation here is a very simple one. Measured just with the presence of MP candidates from different social classes in political parties.

Secondly, I focus on the cynical attitudes of voters about the political system and politicians. And pose the question whether the relation between representation and electoral behavior is mediated through cynical attitudes.

To put differently, if one social class is not well represented by mainstream political parties, the people of this class may become more cynical and in the elections they may vote for the radical parties (PVV or SP).

Results of many statistical analyses are in line with my expectations. (Yayy, for me!)

Yes, people are more cynical if there are few MP candidates from their social classes in mainstream political parties. And they have a greater tendency to vote for PVV or the SP or even for abstention (non-voting).

to be continued..

political nightmare: PVV-SGP alliance ahead

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

PVV, the Dutch far right party. Openly against Islam. Very negative about the allochtoons (foreigners, immigrants, especially the non-western ones) in the country. 24 seats in the parliament. Supports the minority government from outside, especially on economic issues.

SGP (Reformed Political Party, Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij), fundamentalist Christian party. Highly controversial. Openly against homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia because they are all sin. Also against Muslims. Reject women as MPs. Wants the abolishment of Equal Treatment Commission. No more mosques and minarets. And two seats in parliament. Although not a part of the government, they have a crucial role, (especially in the First Chamber/Upper House/Eerste Kamer). Their approval may be necessary for the government when some controversial laws are getting through the senate.

Nowadays, those two parties are winking at each other.

There is a discussion in the parliament on the regulation of sunday shoppings. In the Netherlands, shops are closed on Sundays, unless they are not situated in highly touristic areas. Shops are only open on Sunday afternoons in 12 weeks a year, which means once in a month. Liberal parties want to change this rule and give the right of regulation to local authorities, instead of a national control by the parliament. However, Christian parties and the Socialists are against this, for different reasons. The former is for religious reasons, as Sunday is the day to rest and pray for Christians, the latter is for ideological reasons, to prevent the exploitation of workers. All other parties are in favor of local regulation of sunday shopping. However, the PVV is confused again 🙂 They declared that they are not going to support the efforts to allow local authorities decide about Sunday trading, although they think that “shopkeepers should have a free choice”. This is just because they do not want “to risk damaging the coalition”. And a PVV MP admits : “We need [the SGP] support in the upper and lower houses of parliament. It is both desirable and necessary to keep the political alliance intact to improve the Netherlands and the corporate climate.”

Keeping this political alliance intact? Corporate climate? Are we living in the same country with that MP?

If shops remain closed on Sundays, the SGP promises to cooperate with the government in other controversial issues. But only in a Christian manner,”maar dan wel op een christelijke manier”. What a trade-off!

Another issue the PVV and the SGP is about to cooperate is the organization of an aid convoy for Gaza, Palestine. Some Dutch NGOs have organized a humanitarian aid ship for Gaza and in a couple of weeks the ship will take off to Turkey, then to Palestine. The PVV calls the government to insist on Turkey to prevent the ship for the protection of international peace. (If you are still not aware of this, I want to highlight the international peace we have on earth. As you know, Israel and Palestine are in peace, everything is great in Libya, there is some noise in Bahrein and Syria but everything will be okay soon. Ivory Coast? They are not a part of “the international”, let them do the things the way they want.) The major supporter of the PVV on this Gaza convoy issue are the Christian parties, the SGP and the CU (Christian Union).

The relationship between the SGP and the PVV were not that friendly in the past. In November 2010, the SGP leader Kees van der Staaij made statement criticizing the PVV about its MPs, who had involved in some criminal acts in the past. He complains about ‘PVV troubles'(PVV-perikelen) for endangering the stability of government. According to him, those PVVers who acted immorally should resign.  In the statement he says:

“In het debat heb ik er zelf bewust voor gekozen om weg te blijven van de onderlinge schermutselingen en het politieke steekspel. Namens de SGP heb ik vooral het algemene morele punt vooropgesteld.  Kamerleden moeten van onbesproken gedrag zijn. Als dat niet zo is, dan schaadt dat het aanzien van het parlement als geheel en dan slaat dat een deuk in de geloofwaardigheid van de fracties die zij vertegenwoordigen. Voor heel veel mensen in het land raakt dit ook de betrouwbaarheid van “de politiek”.”

Roughly translated by google as:

“In the debate I have self-consciously chosen to stay away from the clashes between them and the political jousting. On behalf of the SGP, I mainly general moral point provided. MPs must be of impeccable character. If it is not, harms the reputation of the parliament as a whole and then hits a dent in the credibility of the groups they represent. For many people in this country affects the reliability of “politics”.”

And the PVV, I can imagine, might have not liked those fundamentalist Christians calling them ‘immoral’.

Now, the SGP and the PVV are becoming very close friends.. How come?

Ends justify the means, as Machiavelli says in his book, Prince. All kinds of means are permissible to reach a certain end. Both parties are acting in accordance with this Machiavellian rule. Politics (i.e. the modern, corrupt, so-called democratic politics) requires this. You do not have never-changing principles, but conditional ones.

Now, curiously waiting for the outcomes of those strategic alliances between crazy parties..

banning halal and kosher

April 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The Netherlands is seriously discussing the ban of ritual/religious slaughtering of animals. This ban will also cover the importation of ritually slaughtered meat from other countries. Tough, ha?

The ban is now being debated in the parliament. The proposal of the ban first came from the Party for the Animals (Partij voor de Dieren). They argue that when animals are slaughtered without being stunned, they feel more stress and severe pain, and this is against the animal rights. Okay, there is freedom of religion in the country, but that should not violate the rights of animals, they say. Many parties are in favor of the ban. Only Christian parties are against it. The Labour (PvdA), the liberals (VVD and D66), the Greens (GL) all support it.. There is large muslim electorate in the country, I wonder why none of them take that fact into account.

Surprisingly, the PVV is divided. I am pretty sure that if this ban was only about Muslims, they would be the first to support. But, fortunately (!) Jews would also be affected from the ban. And the PVV is divided now. Some PVVers are in favor of the ban, some are against.

An MP from the PVV says that he cannot support this ban because, the first anti-Jewish measures taken in the Netherlands during World War II was a ban on ritual slaughter. What a weird political position is that? He remembers the atrocities of WWII and is clearly aware of how they began. He knows that symbolic bans and cases of discrimination led to mass killings during the war. However, he (at least his party) does not show the same sensitivity towards foreigners (or more specifically Muslims or allochtonen) in the country. His party is openly against Muslims in the country and has proposed many anti-Muslim measures. He can respond to my criticism saying that Jews are a part of Europe than Muslims, Europe has a Judeo-Christian cultural tradition etc. I don’t but that. Jews had always been excluded, they were always discriminated against, and the Holocaust was the peak of this hatred. Judaism has only become a part of European tradition only after Holocaust.

While there is a double standard in the eyes of some PVVers, Muslim and Jewish organizations came together and a signed a declaration against the ban. In the statement they claim that there are also other scientific studies showing that ritual slaughtering without stunning is less painful for the animals. So, before the ban is discussed in the parliament, they should have taken those counter evidence into account, they say. They are indeed right. But I find this position a bit problematic, especially for religiously motivated organizations. They base their arguments on scientific research, as the PvD does. Let’s assume that it is scientifically proven that ritual slaughtering is more painful for animals. What would those religious organizations say then? Would they say, ‘okay, if it is scientifically painful for animals, then we give up kosher or halal’? Muslims (and also Jews in this case) should also know how to defend their position from a non-scientific perspective.

race of the killer matters

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Last Saturday, the Dutch got shocked by the following news:

“At least six people have been shot dead in a shopping centre in Alphen aan den Rijn by a gunman who sprayed passersby with an automatic weapon.”

I am curious what would have happened, if the killer was a black or an immigrant guy? Could they easily say that it was clearly a suicidal attack? If it was suicidal or not, does it make a difference? It is intended and planned.

I forget, it was committed by a “neutral” white man. So, it is a normal, random killing.

I cannot describe how I relieved when I read the news that the killer was a “white, with long blonde hair”. I cannot imagine the otherwise.

if you are unemployed, go for a low-paid job

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Quoting from today’s Dutchnews:

“Unemployed Dutch nationals should do the jobs currently being done by migrants working for less than the minimum wage or without a contract altogether, social affairs minister Henk Kamp says in Thursday’s AD.”

See the solution proposed by the minister of social affairs?
According to the news article, the logic behind this solution is that instead of people demanding social benefits from the government, they can do those low-paid jobs and earn their own wages.
This proposition can also be a solution for another problem in the field of social affairs. The minister adds, for those jobs many non-EU migrants are granted a work permit, but in the future, they cannot be given..

With this idea, our minister can solve the problem of unemployment, paying the minimum wage, and also solve the problem of migrant workers, who are always a problem and a burden for the state..

Now we can thank our minister for his genius proposal and double solutions to two serious problems of the Dutch society..

If you want to know more about this minister of social affairs and employment, you can check wikipedia and the website of the Dutch Parliament.

Christian Democrats and Muslim electorate..

March 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Christian Democratic Party in the Netherlands, CDA, used to be the biggest party in the country. In the general elections of June 2010, they became the fourth party, suffering from severe losses of votes. Currently they are one of the coalition partners of the government..

They have been in the government for many years. And the Prime Ministers between 1977-1994 and 2002-2010 were from the CDA.

When writing, I am not following a casual order (or any kind of order), but I think my point is clear. Now, CDA is not as powerful as it was in the past.

Muslim minority (immigrants) in the country used to vote for this party, because of their shared values and positions on some issues, related to family or drugs etc. CDA has (or used to have) a more conservative stance on those issues, they also support the EU membership of Turkey.

The far right party PVV, which is outspokenly against Islam in the country, supports the current minority government. That means CDA and PVV are in a way partners in the government.

Muslims in the country, of course, are not happy with this partnership and they are becoming more and more alienated from the CDA. The party currently have Muslim members, and they warn the party in an open letter to take action not to lose their Muslim electorate..

I have not read the letter, but read its news from both English and Dutch sources. Both sources quote the same statement, which sounds a bit (no, not a bit, but too) weird to me.

“In the letter, the party members say they feel they are seen first as Muslims and second as members of the CDA.’This is undoubtably connected to the fact that we are in an alliance with a party that makes combating Islam a key issue,’ the letter states.”

OR in Dutch:
“[…] dat ze het gevoel hebben dat ze in de eerste plaats worden bekeken als moslims en niet als CDA-leden. ‘Dit heeft ongetwijfeld te maken met het feit dat we met een gedoogpartner regeren die van de strijd tegen de islam een kernpunt maakt.’ ”

What is wrong with being seen “first as Muslims and second as members of the CDA”? Seriously, what is wrong with that? Is it something offensive for Muslims? I do not see their point. Is it because I am an outsider?