The Netherlands: The Country Of Polders, Directness And Pragmatism

A while ago, my home country — the Netherlands — held its general elections. With a turnout of 82%, the Dutch have chosen a total of thirteen parties to represent them in the House of Representatives for the next several years, none of which received more than 22% of the votes. In the next several months, some of these parties will have to sit down in a closed room, and negotiate an agreement that will allow them to form a majority government for the next foreseeable years. Only after this lengthy process will the Dutch people know who their Prime Minister and cabinet members will be.

I imagine this process sounds alien to many Americans. I assure, however, that in this post I will not put on my pundit hat and make predictions about which government we are likely to have, the merits of each party’s policy proposals, or the virtues and vices of the election campaigns. Instead, I will be writing about Dutch culture, starting with pointing out how our election campaign and the formation process provide cases in point about what the culture that I grew up in looks like.

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