Nearly half of current councilors (44 percent) have seen the way they do politics in their councils deteriorate in recent years. Copying behavior from the House of Representatives, many say, where according to them it is completely barren and angry.
This is apparent from research by EenVandaag and the Dutch Association for Councilors among nearly a thousand local representatives. No less than 88 percent of the surveyed councilors believe that the way of doing politics in the House of Representatives has deteriorated in recent years.
“National politics has become more of a TV studio than a place where we exchange views and come to the best solution for the country,” a council member noted in the study. Another writes: “Not arguments but verbal aggression apparently yields electoral results. The ordinary citizen then thinks that this is the new normal. That is super bad.”
And that is not without consequences for the council’s work, because many councilors regularly see that harsh tone from the House in their municipal council: “Some colleagues clearly watch debates in the House of Representatives too much. Debate after debate they provoke others, they play on the man and refuse to listen to others.” More than four in ten have seen the atmosphere in their municipal council deteriorate in recent years.
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Negative influence on council work
The harsh tone in the House of Representatives and many other national developments in recent years have clearly not made council work any easier. 62 percent say events in national politics have had a negative impact on their work as councillors.
“The allowance affair, the gas extraction here, the cabinet formation. I can’t help it, but citizens knock on my door. They see politics as a whole, no distinction is made between national and local.” This Groningen councilor was not the only one to be held accountable for such matters. Two thirds have had quite a few to many questions from residents about national political events. A large proportion asked their rural branch for help, usually to their satisfaction. One in six councilors was not satisfied with the help provided.
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Moderate confidence in national politics
The confidence of councilors in national politics is moderate: 54 percent. Even fewer councilors (40 percent) support the current cabinet, Rutte IV. “It is the same clique that has not only damaged the confidence of citizens for years, but also makes it very difficult for us with its policy on youth care, WMO and other important files,” said a council member in the investigation.
Although a large group of councilors saw the atmosphere in the council deteriorate, almost nine in ten (86 percent) have confidence in municipal politics.
Joyce Boverhuis presents the results of the investigation.
About this research
In collaboration with the Dutch Association for Councilors, EenVandaag conducted a large-scale survey among current Dutch councilors. The results come from a survey conducted from February 10-17, 2022.
978 councilors took part in this survey (pdf), of which 135 are councilors on behalf of the CDA. These respondents come from the database of approximately 8,000 current councilors of the Dutch Association for Councilors and were invited by e-mail via that organization to participate in an online questionnaire. After response, the results were weighted on the characteristics of councilors, namely gender, province, municipality size, the party they represent and the size of that party.