Dutch love democracy, dislike politics

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No image availableNL Times

Roughly 93 percent of the Netherlands thinks that democracy is the best possible form of government, and 95 percent think it is important to live in a democratically governed nation, a new survey from the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) revealed. Released on Friday, the report also found that 73 percent of people living in the country have a negative view of politics there.

“The main reasons put forward for dissatisfaction were that politicians do not listen and simply do what they want, that citizens have too little say and that politicians talk too much and act too little; or else they were dissatisfied with current policy at the time of the survey,” the research noted. Citizens are wanting to have a greater say through more public debate and the collection of public opinion information about democracy itself.

The SCP quoted one 30-year-old man as saying, “Generally Democracy as a state form works well, it is unfortunately the politicians that make a mess of it.”

Some 22 percent support more direct democracy where people vote on many referenda as oppose to representative politics, with 45 percent wanting to vote on a selection of referenda chosen by elected representatives. “This would seem to suggest that at least a proportion of the Dutch public see direct democracy mainly as a way of adding to or improving representative democracy rather than as an alternative to it,” the report noted.

The research was carried out by Dr. Diana den Ridder and Prof. Paul Dekker, and published under the title, “More Democracy, Less Politics?” The report was commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relation to gauge the perception of the Dutch public into democracy and politics.

They also found that while people in the Netherlands deeply value equal treatment by the courts, opinion is divided about whether or not that exists. At the same time, 90 percent value both a free press and freedom to oppose government, with 70 percent saying they are satisfied with both.