Dutch people much more optimistic about the future

31 March 2014, by
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The number of Dutch people who feel positive about the Netherlands has not been this high since the outbreak of the economic crisis in late 2008.

A total of 37 per cent of people in the Netherlands are optimistic about the future of the country, compared to 29 per cent three months ago.

That comes from research undertaken by the Social and Cultural Planning Bureau (SCP) in their ongoing study of citizen perspectives. The newest figures cover the first three months of 2014. The researchers asked over 1.100 Dutch people what they thought of the economy, politics and Europe.

More positive about Dutch economy

"The mood is that economically the worst is behind us," says researcher Paul Dekker from the SCP.

Most of the better mood the research detected was due to the improving economy. Seventy-three per cent of respondents expected the economic situation to remain the same or improve in the coming year.

Only a year ago that number was just 40 per cent, rising to 45 per cent in the last quarter. That is a rise of nearly 30 per cent in three months.

In particular, people with a higher education or an above-average household income showed a more positive state of mind, with 58 per cent saying they were satisfied with their own situation.

Negativity at a historic low

A great improvement in mood does not mean that everyone feels it is all coming up roses: the majority (54 per cent) think the Netherlands is taking the wrong path. Yet, this number is much lower than it has been.

According to Dekker, it has sometimes been two-thirds. This is because these more pessimistic responses come from people who do not feel the better economic news fits with what they see in their own environment as regards unemployment, temporary contracts and increasing care and living costs.

Less satisfaction with politicians

Dutch confidence in political institutions remains low, with only around 45 per cent saying they had sufficient confidence in the government. That figure rose slightly for the Lower House.

Dutch people more optimistic

The sense of political powerlessness is also high: nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that they cannot influence the activities of the government, while 43 per cent believe that the way politicians interact with each other is rude and inappropriate.

That number decreased slightly from last year, but it may rise again in response to PVV leader Geert Wilders’ comments on Moroccan immigrants during the recent municipal elections.

Dutch attitude to Europe worsening

With the European elections on May 22 coming fast, it seems that Dutch people are starting to think more negatively about Europe. Support for membership to the EU has decreased slightly since 2009.

Then, in the middle of the euro crisis, 45 per cent of people were happy with the union. Five years later, that number has dropped to 31 per cent.

More people also think that Dutch politicians have transferred too much power to the EU: 57 per cent compared to 44 per cent in early 2012.

Top 10 issues in the Netherlands

1.Co-existence and values
2.Incomes and the economy
3.Healthcare and care for the elderly
4.Politics and governance
5.Employment
6.Immigration and integration
7.Crime and safety
8.Social security system
9.International/Netherlands in the world
10.Youth and family


Sources: SCP, Trouw

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Alexandra Gowling

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