Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Posts Tagged ‘dutch’

Dutch Government Falls

Posted by butalidnl on 20 February 2010

The Dutch government fell last night.  This is not as earth-shaking as it sounds.  The government composed of the CDA (Christian Democrats), PvdA (Social Democrats) and Christen Unie (“Christian Union”) fell apart last night (as in 2 am) on the issue of whether to extend the mission of Dutch troops in Afghanistan.

The Dutch have been in Afghanistan since 2007, originally for a two-year mission. Then, in 2008, they extended it for another two years, till the end of this year. Now, the CDA (with pressure exerted by the Americans) want to extend the mission AGAIN – though in a smaller form – and the PvdA said no. The PvdA said no, because that was the agreement of two years ago. The troops have been there long enough,  the resources of the military are already all used up, and the war is unpopular among the Dutch. Actually, the Parliament as a whole is against the troop mission, but since the Cabinet is the one to decide these matters, it was up to the PvdA to “put its foot down” on the issue.

The issue is complicated further by the fact that local elections are also about to be held – by 3 March. Because of the elections, the PvdA could not afford to have any flexibility on this matter.  Any sign of a compromise would reflect badly on their local candidates. But the CDA was under intense pressure from the US, which wanted the Dutch to stay on. So, the ruling parties met yesterday, met about it – and they met, and met, and met… 16 hours straight – from 10 am till 4 am. But, no solution was found. So, the PvdA “pulled the plug” on the government.

What happens next is still quite open. Now, the ball goes to the queen (Queen Beatrix). The prime minister will present her with his resignation; then, the Queen will consult with all party leaders on what to do next. Because the choice is either to try to form a new government from the present parliament, or to have elections. And if a new government is to be formed, who will form it.

For ordinary citizens, the falling of the government has no immediate effect. The government bureaucracy goes on with its work, and of course government services go on as usual. But the decisions for example on financial policies, especially with the economic crisis ongoing. The Cabinet was supposed to put together an economic plan for going out of the recession. Now, this goes to the caretaker cabinet, which has much less powers.

So, even if the effect is not immediate, the country should not go too long without a government.

Posted in politics, The Netherlands, World Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

American Midwest Floods and some possible tips from the Dutch experience

Posted by butalidnl on 10 July 2008

I have been following the events of June in the American midwest, where many rivers overflowed their banks, flooding cities and croplands. It was indeed quite a disaster. And I don’t believe that this was a “hundred years flood” – with climate change and all, people should expect this to happen more often, instead of 100 years,  maybe every 20 years!

Perhaps the Americans can learn some tips from how the Dutch deal with the constant threat of floods.
First of all, the Dutch take the control of water flow quite seriously. The government always allots all the funds needed for water control projects. (Nobody ever complains at these expenses; many complain however if water projects are done too slowly)All the dikes are regularly inspected and maintained. There are elected bodies which are in charge of all aspects of water flow control in an area covering several towns. (These waterschappen even predate the founding of the Netherlands as an independent state.

And then the Dutch rivers have dikes, but they are placed differently from the American ones. The Dutch have set up two rows of dikes at their rivers. The first set, about one or two meters high is set right next to the river, or what they refer to as the river’s “summer bed”. A couple of hundred meters further is the second row of dikes. This is a more massive and tall structure, and often, there are even roads on top of them. The area between the small dike and the massive one is usually devoted to grazing land.  The whole space between the massive dikes on both sides of the river is referred to as the river’s winter bed. This is because there is often more water flowing down the river due to rains and melting snow in the countries where the rivers originate (Switzerland, Germany, France and Belgium)

The Dutch also have a system of gates and special canals, which they can open when too much water is flowing in one or another river. Thus, they can divert water from the Rhine into the Ijssel river. Or, from the Maas into the  Rhine/Maas rivers.  And finally, if even this is not enough,  they have the system of “green rivers”, where excess water could  be diverted onto green lakes.

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