Column | Architect of one’s own failure

The relationship between the Dutch government and its citizens resembles a romantic relationship in which a loved one always fails to fulfill their own agreement. For while the Dutch are still expected to pay taxes and comply with laws and regulations, the government’s disappointing performance is piling up. For example, the government has recently acknowledged that the discriminatory actions of the tax authorities are motivated by institutional racism. It is “unacceptable” that especially Dutch people with a non-Western appearance ended up on the tax authorities’ blacklist, acknowledged State Secretary Marnix van Rij (Tax and Tax Administration, CDA).

Police are also joining the disappointment carousel on behalf of the government. The documentary The blue family depicted how six officers experienced racism, discrimination and bullying. After the documentary, it rained on new complaints. “Yes. When I see what happened to colleagues, I can only see it as the failure of our management,” Deputy Chief of Police Liesbeth Huyzer admitted to. de Volkskrant

Just as an unreliable partner promises self-improvement after a disappointing performance, the government was so quick to present plans to both the tax authorities and the police to prevent its own failure in the future. Van Rij promised to work with the Department of Human Rights and the National Coordinator against Discrimination and Racism. Police promised to tackle racism in their own circle. “Whoever crosses the border will always feel it,” Huyzer said. “There should always be a sanction. Always. And where necessary, dismissal will follow. ”

From tackling the housing crisis, to the earthquakes in Groningen due to gas extraction, to the reduction of nitrogen – the Dutch government has no shortage of big plans to allay Dutch concerns. But just like in a love affair, you should not judge the performance of the government on the basis of clever words and bold plans, but on the basis of actual results. Anyone who follows Dutch politics closely knows that the beautiful words and plans do not always match the complex reality.

It is a lie to think that you can fight institutional racism with a series of workshops on unconscious bias and a stack of reports from the College of Human Rights and the National Coordinator against Discrimination and Racism. By firing people who make a clumsy or racist comment, one has not immediately realized an inclusive police organization. It is too beautiful to put into words that one can build a third of the 900,000 homes for social rent without waiving the mortgage interest deduction. And it is a lie that the gas tap in Groningen can be shut down without taking into account the geopolitical context and developing a coordinated, sustainable European energy policy.

Very cool that the government will act decisively, but by presenting beautiful words and unrealistic plans in all sorts of areas, the same government is acting as an architect of its own failure. The Dutch expect an ambitious government, but ambition does not mean pretentiousness. “When people think about the future relationship between themselves and the government, they prefer to see a government that is honest, communicates understanding to the citizens and acts with a human touch.” It is one of the most important insights from a study conducted by Kantar on behalf of the National Ombudsman in the pre-corona era. The survey also shows that the Dutch rate their relationship with the government with a paltry six.

It is to be hoped that the government will take a more modest approach and involve people in the search for solutions to their own concerns. In this way, we can prevent even more Dutch people from seeing their own government as an unreliable ex-lover.

Kiza Magendane is a political scientist and writes column here every other week.

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