Third of NL residents would ignore democracy to solve complicated problems
In order to solve urgent problems, it must be possible for the government to limit the participation of opposition parties in the discussion and decision-making process. In order to solve social problems quickly and decisively, the Cabinet can take less account of the points of view and interests of different groups. A third of Netherlands residents agreed with these statements in a study titled Democratic Consciousness in the Netherlands.
A third of Netherlands residents are therefore prepared to temporarily put parliamentary democracy aside for complex and urgent problems. This is a worrying development because if democracy is set aside for one problem, why not also for another problem, the researchers said. The study was carried out at the end of 2021 on behalf of the Anne Frank House by the Verwey-Jonker Institute among 1,616 Netherlands residents aged 18 and older.
According to the researchers, the proportion of Netherlands residents prepared to undermine the democratic constitutional state has been growing since 2019. People are even more likely to choose options that violate the rule of law when problems are made concrete, like those concerning the climate and the reception of refugees. This effect is particularly visible among 18 to 24-year-olds. This group has been particularly affected by the coronavirus measures and has therefore become potentially more sensitive to non-liberal and anti-democratic thinking, the researchers said.
The researchers recommend that awareness of the importance of democracy and the rule of law must be increased. Most people must become aware of the fragility of democracy and the consequences of non-liberal forms of government. This can be done through education by responding to democratic dilemmas and realizing that solving problems within the rules of democracy takes time, as does creating support for decisions.
Reporting by ANP