Pessimism prevails, Survey finds that Dutch are gloomier than at the start of the coronavirus crisis
The Dutch have become more pessimistic about each other than at the start of the coronavirus crisis. Confidence in politics, however, has risen since January of this year. Hope for a better economy has been falling since April. These were the results of a survey conducted by the Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP) in January, April, July, and October of this year.
The effects of the second lockdown on the country’s general mood are yet to be determined, but the SCP expects that pessimism will also prevail in December. However, if the number of Covid-19 infections goes down or if there is a prospect of a faster distribution of the vaccine, the mood may change.
From hope to hassle
In the spring, the feeling around the coronavirus was still relatively hopeful. A decline in infection rates, a sense of solidarity, and decisive action by the government were seen as causes for optimism. This fall, negativity dominated. As the number of new cases kept rising, the pandemic became nothing more than a hassle in everybody’s lives. Respondents also thought that measures to tackle the virus were implemented too slowly and the solidary from earlier in the year was hard to find.
A majority of the respondents think that tensions between groups have been magnified due to the virus. The controversies about the virus, among other things, provide these contradictions. People seem to be irritated more quickly, but concerns thereover were already present before the pandemic.
Rising confidence in politics
Confidence in politics rose sharply at the start of the coronavirus crisis. That confidence declined in July, and in October, two-thirds of the Dutch gave politicians a pass. That is still more than at the start of the year when it was only at 50 percent. It is generally perceived that politicians act in the interest of the country. The approach to the coronavirus is made with good intentions, and politicians work hard, said the respondents.
Criticism did increase during the year. For example, there are more doubts about the logic of the Covid-19 measures and whether the government intervened in time. The majority was in favor of stricter measures in October. A small group thinks the actions are going too far.
The effects of the second lockdown have yet to be announced. The SCP does not expect that confidence in politics will rise again as quickly as in the spring. That is because we are no longer dealing with a sudden crisis. More public and political debate about the necessity of the chosen approach is taking place in society.
No faith in the economy
During the year, the Dutch have mainly been concerned with the economy in general and unemployment numbers. However, respondents were not too concerned about their own financial situation.
In October, nearly 80 percent said they expected the economy to deteriorate next year. In the summer, this was about 70 percent, and in April, almost 90 percent. Five percent expect an improvement for the coming year. Respondents with both lower and higher levels of education were gloomy about the economic future.
People who want the economy to reopen have become less confident in politics. Three-quarters see an increasing contrast between rich and poor.