Catalan Referendum Animates Flemish, Leaves Dutch Cold

View of Antwerp, Belgium, March 28, 2014
View of Antwerp, Belgium, March 28, 2014 (Visit Flanders)

The Dutch aren’t sure what to make of Catalonia’s independence bid. Only in the last few days have their news media started paying attention to what’s happening in the region.

Flemish media are more interested. Maybe because they have pragmatically managed their differences with the French-speaking Walloons for decades and are wondering why the Catalans and Spanish can’t do the same? Read more

Democrats Should Campaign for Dutch-Style Health Reforms

Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014
Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014 (Shirley de Jong)

The other day, I explained that the reason Americans can’t get a European-style health-care system is not opposition from insurance companies but the fears of 155 million Americans who currently get health insurance through their employers. They worry that a single-payer system, like Britain’s, would mean higher taxes and lower-quality care.

Such fears — largely unfounded — would undoubtedly be amplified by drug companies, health providers and insurance companies if the Democrats campaigned for “Medicare for all”.

So instead of having an abstract, and probably pointless, debate about which health-care system is superior, why not look at what advocates of single-payer hope to achieve and see if this can’t be done without eliminating private insurance? Read more

Negotiations for Labor Reform Break Down in Netherlands

The port of Rotterdam in the early morning, March 14, 2014
The port of Rotterdam in the early morning, March 14, 2014 (Haaijk)

Labor negotiations between employers’ organizations and trade unions have broken down in the Netherlands.

Both sides blame the other, but employers had the bigger incentive to let the talks collapse.

Without a deal, it will be up to the next government to impose reforms and the four parties negotiating to form a government are center-right. They are expected to enact more employer- than worker-friendly changes. Read more

Dutch Seek New Role for Themselves in Europe of Brexit and Macron

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte gives a speech to leaders of the Baltic nations, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden in The Hague, June 21
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte gives a speech to leaders of the Baltic nations, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden in The Hague, June 21 (Presidency of Lithuania/Robertas Dačkus)

Brexit and a reinvigorated Franco-German partnership have caused the Dutch to seek a new role for themselves in Europe.

For years, the trading nation could rely on the United Kingdom to provide a counterweight to the Mediterranean bloc and its protectionist tendencies. Now the fear in The Hague is that Britain’s exit from the EU will lead to a renewed focus on political, as opposed to economic, integration. Read more

Dutch Liberal, Christian Parties Start Talks to Form Government

Former Dutch finance minister Gerrit Zalm speaks at an event in Rotterdam, March 10, 2016
Former Dutch finance minister Gerrit Zalm speaks at an event in Rotterdam, March 10, 2016 (Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest)

Parties in the Netherlands have asked former finance minister Gerrit Zalm to lead negotiations for forming a government, signaling their seriousness to do a deal before the start of the fiscal year in September. Read more

Dutch Left Forces Liberals into Coalition with Christian Right

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte answers questions in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, July 5, 2016
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte answers questions in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, July 5, 2016 (European Parliament)

The Dutch center-right is due to start negotiations with the Christian right to form a majority government after all three left-wing parties have spurned talks. Read more

Dutch Center-Right Parties Eye Labor for Pact

Mark Rutte and Lodewijk Asscher, the prime minister and social affairs minister of the Netherlands, attend a summit in Brussels, March 16, 2016
Mark Rutte and Lodewijk Asscher, the prime minister and social affairs minister of the Netherlands, attend a summit in Brussels, March 16, 2016 (European Council)

It is starting to look like there may be no way to form a majority government in the Netherlands without the recently vanquished Labor Party. Read more