Neither bread nor circuses

“Didn’t need no welfare state,” intoned Archie Bunker forty-odd years ago. Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, still in his forties, seems to have come to the same conclusion:

King Willem-Alexander delivered a message to the Dutch people from the government in a nationally televised address: the welfare state of the 20th century is gone.

In its place a “participation society” is emerging, in which people must take responsibility for their own future and create their own social and financial safety nets, with less help from the national government.

The king traveled past waving fans in an ornate horse-drawn carriage to the 13th-century Hall of Knights in The Hague for the monarch’s traditional annual address on the day the government presents its budget for the coming year. It was Willem-Alexander’s first appearance on the national stage since former Queen Beatrix abdicated in April and he ascended to the throne.

This was not entirely unexpected: the Dutch budget is seriously strained of late, though Prime Minister Mark Rutte expects the opposition in Parliament to do the right thing:

Challenged as to whether his Cabinet may be facing a crisis, Rutte insisted in an interview with national broadcaster NOS on Tuesday that he ultimately will find support for the budget.

“At crucial moments, the opposition is willing to do its share,” he said.

Where have we heard that?





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