If this whole “yellow vest” issue has you a bit confused, DutchReview comes to the rescue to give you an overview of the protest and it spreading through Europe (and the Netherlands)!

Here’s a quick recap of what went down:

  • It started as a protest against the green tax on fuel three weeks ago, but it has grown into a broader movement against Macron’s economic policies. After 10 years of austerity measures, another increase in the living cost was just one too many.
  • It started out peacefully, however it’s turning more violent.
  • The main forms of protests have been blocking roads (the government said this is causing an economic crisis) and rioting in the streets (which also resulted in damages to monuments in Paris).
  • Hundreds of people have been injured, more than a thousand arrested. In a somewhat shocking video, the police is shown making underage students kneel.
Source: Wiki Commons

“Gilet jaune” in the Netherlands?

Not just in Paris and other French cities have demonstrators in yellow vests gone out: this happened in the Netherlands, and other countries too. In most places in the Netherlands, the demonstrations (that took place last Saturday) were over by mid-afternoon. The protest went fortunately without any violence. Scattered around the country, an estimated 600 people protested, while in France the protest at its peak drew about 200.000 people out; the turnout was greatest in Rotterdam and The Hague.

The main motive (in the Netherlands as well as in other countries) for the protest seems to be a general discontent towards the governments’ economic measures, that many demonstrators in Rotterdam, Maastricht and Eindhoven voiced with “Rutte, leave!”.

However, not every local organization of the protests clearly indicates what is being demonstrated. And there are also some folks from the (extreme) fringes of society coming to these protests.

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There is some explanation on their national page: protesters are against “the government and the policies that they conduct that cause thousands of people to live in uncertainty”.

So… somewhat even more unorganized than their French counterparts, I guess we’ll just have to see how this develops. The Netherlands never was or is the big protesting nation, though. But why?

Het Poldermodel

The ‘poldermodel’ is the name given to the Dutch consensus model in which employers, unions and government sit down together to negotiate over working conditions, wages, etc. It’s the equivalent of “doe normaal” for demonstrations and workers rights: you sit down, talk and try to get to a compromise, instead of riots and protests on one side and unbudging legislators on the other.

The current Dutch polder model is said to have begun with the Wassenaar Accords of 1982, in which unions, employers and government decided on a comprehensive plan to reinvigorate the economy by working shorter times and getting less pay on the one hand, and more employment on the other. This model, combined with a policy of privatization and budget cuts, has been held to be responsible for the Dutch “economic miracle” of the late 90s.

However, the consensus model has been around for some time: it actually goes back to the Middle Ages, when the process of land reclamation began. Then, different societies living in the same polder were forced to cooperate – without unanimous agreement on shared responsibility (for example for maintenance of the dykes and pumping stations), the polders would have flooded and everyone would have suffered. Even when different cities in the same polder were at war, they still had to cooperate in this respect! This is thought to have taught the Dutch to set differences aside for a greater purpose (and to have given the “poldermodel” its name).

What do you think about these ‘Yellow Vests’ protests? Will the Netherlands stand by their “poldermodel”? Let us know in the comments!

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