If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


12 MARCH 2017

I Have a Horse in this Race

DELFT - America spends a year and money-beyond-tracing in its election of a leader, who then has unspeakable power for up to 8 years. The Dutch spend around 2 months and 'pocket change' on their election and may vote from a list of over a dozen parties.

A Prime Minister is chosen, puts together a coalition and governs. Power is limited, and of course there is always King Willem-Alexander nearby. Dutch do not seem to have a taste for the cult of big personality type of leadership. Sure they like marching bands and Carnival, but that is just enjoyable, not to be taken seriously. It appears that no matter how fixed a Dutch person's view on life, the state of things or how to fix problems, there is a party to join.


"I think most Dutch secretly like Mr. Rutte (on the left in the image). He plays the piano and visits his mother. He has stood for Holland when the rest of the world did not really want to know about that plane shot down over Ukraine."

Fact-less slander is more an American blood sport. For instance: I have not read that Mr. Rutte is believed to run a child prostitution racket from the basement of a pizza house in den Haag.

I like this very Dutch political system I live in. It acknowledges the great variety of human opinion and belief - and lets that run free rather than trying to squeeze everyone into one of two boxes. About boxes, I received in the mail a voter info sheet. Unfolded, it takes up most of my dinning room table. It is covered in boxes, stacked and sorted by party. The voting places are listed for Delft, and the process is explained for the reading. I was not sure of the meaning of 'stem' and looked it up in my handy Prisma dictionary (Basiswoordenboek).

Examples that come to my mind are the Jesus Lives, Pirate and Animal Rights parties. There are several more that profess a single, true path forward (can a path backward?). When someone votes for a party, they get exactly what they pay for.

If enough other voters agree, they are sure at least one person in Parliament will hold their view. Were I Dutch, I would likely vote Green Left, just to get the Green view into decisions about laws. Law like the Devil is in the details.

To have an effect, Green Left must join a coalition. No one in Holland can convince enough people to win an outright majority. Thus, governing is done by politicians willing to compromise: everyone has something; no one has their way.

The current Prime Minister is campaigning to keep the job he has held for 6 years. I have read that he is a sharp dresser. My thought is that he has done what was possible and kept clean. I think those are very Dutch traits.

'Stem' means voice as a noun; 'stemmen' as a verb means to vote. 'Stem' has variations: to raise your voice, call out. Voting here is private, but the root of the word is the democracy of the mound, of the terp: one's vote spoken aloud before all.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen