Monopoly for Danish in Denmark?

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

OK, OK, we’re back to serious again, although we remain in Denmark. The main serious thing that is happening there currently is that there’s an election campaign going on, heading for a vote scheduled for February 8. Here is CNN’s coverage if you want a little background; basically the incumbent premier, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is currently doing well in the polls, is required to hold a general election sometime this year, and so would to prefer to do so now.

But I don’t expect you to care. Shoot, I don’t care myself. If you send your web-browser to EuroSavant expecting at all to read Danish election coverage on any sort of regular basis, well, then you clearly misunderstand the wildly-scattershot quality that is central to this weblog’s self-conception. (Look, I’ve got eight languages to cover – don’t forget to include English! – and a focus that, if it even merits that name, shifts abruptly and unpredictably with my very whim.)

No, we don’t care about the upcoming election to the Danish Folketing (that’s their unicameral parliament) per se; what we might care about is the remarkable or even silly things that the pressures of such an election campaign might move Danish political parties and/or politicians to utter. And we have a prize specimen here today, from Politiken: Danish People’s Party Wants to Forbid Other Languages. (more…)

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The Poles and Their “Un-Dutch” Work Practices

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

We’re immediately back today to the “Polish guest-worker” theme, and this time in an established EU-land where the gates for such labor have not been thrown wide open with last May’s accession of the ten new member-states (logical, as that’s going to be the case for every “older fifteen” member-state we talk about other than Ireland), namely the Netherlands. Nonetheless, it seems that the spectre of Polish labor is making its presence felt here, too, as Martin Visser reports in one of those rare on-line articles from the leading Dutch business newspaper, Het Financiële Dagblad, that you’re allowed to read in exchange for free registration on the site (Union Fears the Invisible Poles). (more…)

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Of False Alarms and Attacks Missed

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

Here in the Netherlands we’ve been on a heightened state of terror-alert for over a week – which is the first time that any EU state has warned its citizens against possible imminent attacks since the train-bombings in Madrid of last March 11. Alex Burghoorn of De Volkskrant takes time out from day-to-day news to examine the general European phenomenon of terror-alerts in the recent article Terror Alarm is a Political Balancing-Act. (more…)

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Dutch Presidency to the Economic Rescue!

Tuesday, July 6th, 2004

The chain continues! Of articles examining EU economic performance and policy and/or that of individual member-states, that is. And, as half-promised previously, this time we go to the French press, specifically flagship Le Monde, which announces that The Netherlands Makes the Modernization of the European Economy Its Priority. (more…)

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End of the Dutch “Polder Model”?

Friday, July 2nd, 2004

Is the renowned Dutch “polder model” now in danger? That’s the case made in a recent article by Werner A. Perger in the German commentary-paper Die Zeit: “The Netherlands was for a long time an exemplary country of reform. Now the much-praised model lies in ruins.” (more…)

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The Netherlands Looks Ahead to its Upcoming EU Presidency

Friday, June 25th, 2004

Euro2004 Championships, sovereignty hand-over in Iraq, etc.: What many people are letting pass them by is the fact that, as of July 1, the EU’s rotating presidency goes to the Netherlands. Most of the on-line Dutch press has ignored this so far, too, but at least De Volkskrant is willing to devote an article to looking ahead at that: The Netherlands “Realistic, but Ambitious” as EU- Chairman. (Yes, it seems the Dutch also refer to the rotating “presidency” as the “chairmanship.”) This mainly reports the presentation Dutch foreign minister B.R. Bot and his state-secretary Atzo Nicolaï gave on Wednesday in Brussels which outlined the Netherlands’ plans for the upcoming six-month “chairmanship.” (more…)

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The Netherlands in the Show-Window

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2004

Next up in the Danish newspaper Politiken’s “Europa XL” series of cultural portraits of EU member-states: my favorite! It’s “Holland,” as they term it on the Politiken site, with representative Dutch cultural objects and phenomena (photo, person, event, etc.) chosen by the renowned novelist and travel-book author Cees Nooteboom. (more…)

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Looking Towards 2040

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

One big piece of current news in the Netherlands is the release of a comprehensive report from the Centraal Planbureau (CPB) on “The Future of Europe.” That “Central Plan Bureau,” despite its name, does not occupy itself with any sort of economic planning – i.e. in the socialist sense (as in the old Soviet Gosplan) of presuming to choreograph the national economy by calculating how that economy should work to achieve given national objectives, and then issuing instructions to economic actors about what they are to do. Rather, it is roughly the equivalent, say, of America’s National Bureau of Economic Research, except that the CPB is not private but rather publicly-funded, organizationally being part of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. Nonetheless, the CPB claims that it is quite objective and independent in the research it performs and conclusions it draws, even if it is formally part of the government.

Back in 1992 the CPB produced, and released to the public, its “Scanning the Future” report, a long-term study of the future of Europe and of the Netherlands based upon a general-equilibrium economic model it had developed, called “Worldscan.” “Scanning the Future” was built around four different long-term scenarios of how the future might look, depending on what assumptions you adopted. Like that earlier report, the just-released “Four Futures of Europe” – written in English – is also constructed around four long-term scenarios. (more…)

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The New NATO Secretary-General (For Next Year)

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003

Open the envelope, and the winner is . . . Jaap de Hoop Scheffer for next Secretary-General of NATO! And so the Netherlands contributes its third Secretary-General in the history of the Atlantic Alliance, the first two (as only NATO trivia-buffs will know) having been Dirk Stikker and Joseph Luns. Me, I’m slightly disappointed since I was looking forward to seeing the Norwegian Defense Minister, Kristin Krohn Devold, named instead as NATO’s first female Secretary-General. The New York Times Magazine, in a hagiographical article about her that it published back on August 24, virtually promised that this would happen. (That article has by now retreated behind the NYT’s paid archives-access gate; if you think you might like to pay to see it, the link is here.)

No, its Jaap de Hoop Scheffer instead – and surely it’s time here for a survey of the Dutch press to find out how the thinking-class in Holland is reacting to one of its own being picked out for such a crucial international position. What sort of a politician is he? What qualities will he bring to NATO? What is Holland losing by having him (temporarily) plucked away from its political scene? After all, he is currently the Dutch Foreign Affairs minister; and he used to be head of the CDA, the right-wing, somewhat Christian-oriented (“Christian lite,” anybody? – as opposed to the more “hard-core” Christian parties EuroSavant has briefly discussed before) political party which is now the Netherlands’ largest and whose current leader, Jan-Peter Balkenende (the man who replaced De Hoop Scheffer), is prime minister. (more…)

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Holland’s Houses

Wednesday, September 17th, 2003

Today is Holland Day at EuroSavant! The good reason for that is that yesterday was Prinsjesdag, or the third Tuesday in September, which is when every year the Dutch Queen Beatrix rides an elaborate, old-fashioned coach to the Binnenhof in the Hague, the Dutch house of parliament, to read out a speech which the current government provides her with, which lays out that government’s program for the year. It probably comes as no surprise to you that this year’s government program has already provoked much wailing and gnashing of teeth: €10 billion to be saved this fiscal year, €7 billion the next, and so cut-backs in all sorts of government programs and services held dear by Dutch society.

Given that good reason to make today “Holland Day,” though, I’m going to ignore it – too boring, and too specific to Dutch conditions. If you don’t live here, why would you want to know about that? In fact, you’ve already discovered everything you would want and need to know in my two sentences above.

No, if it’s to be “Holland Day,” let’s devote our attention to something a bit more interesting, to a phenomenon out of Dutch society that does pique the interest even of those who are not native Hollanders: bordellos. Does it come as a surprise to you that, recently, even the municipal authorities of Rotterdam have gotten themselves in to the business of setting up a bawdy house? (more…)

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Dutch Ministry of Defense Discovers It’s Hot in Iraq

Tuesday, August 12th, 2003

That battalion of marines that makes up the core of the 1,164 Dutch troops on occupation duty in southern Iraq will be going home earlier than originally planned – after four months, rather than after six. The NRC Handelsblad, along with several of its competitors in the Dutch press yesterday revealed this latest decision from the Ministry of Defense. The reason? It turns out it can get awful hot in Iraq, with temperatures climbing to 45 or even 50 degrees Centigrade (that’s 113 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit);as a result it would be “not responsible,” according to the Ministry, to make the marines stay there for the full six months. (more…)

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You Think You Got Problems?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2003

Talk about a media “Iraq Withdrawal Syndrome”: The Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad yesterday topped its front page with an article about how the Dutch Parliament (the Tweede Kamer) now finds the establishment of a central registration office of vital importance for the tracking of the various underground cables, waterpipes, and other conduits winding, snaking, and tangling their way underneath Dutch cities. (more…)

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Volkert van der Graaf’s Sentencing and Standard Dutch Practice

Wednesday, April 16th, 2003

My amazement (expressed below in my previous entry) at the eighteen-year sentence given to the murderer of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn is an admittedly American point-of-view – but surely within the Netherlands there must be some dissension as well? (more…)

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18 Years’ Prison for Pim Fortuyn’s Assassin

Wednesday, April 16th, 2003

Sorry, folks, today it’s time to return to my home turf, the Netherlands. Yesterday the confessed murderer of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was sentenced to a mere 18 years in prison, of which he could end up serving little more than half. This for perpetrating last May the Netherlands’ first political murder since William the Silent was assassinated at his home in Delft in 1584, at the height of the struggle for independence from the Spanish empire. (more…)

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Epidemics

Saturday, April 5th, 2003

It’s a Saturday, and American troops are camped south of Baghdad, at the airport. Down south, British troops continue to besiege Basra. By this point, the BBC World Service has discontinued its continuous war coverage in order to broadcast Saturday Sportsworld. And that’s a good thing, too; after a week’s break for Euro 2004 national team qualification, there’s a full schedule of English football matches scheduled for today and tomorrow. Just today, Manchester United win 4-0 over Liverpool to go even at the top of the Premiership standings with Arsenal, who draw 1-1 at Aston Villa.

But in the Dutch papers today, it’s all about epidemics. (more…)

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Dutch Governing Crisis Update

Friday, April 4th, 2003

What’s going on in the Netherlands these days? How about only a caretaker government in power, or more precisely, the old government still hanging on, without much authority to take any sort of major initiatives – and all this more than two months after the last general election? (more…)

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