‘The Netherlands is owned by (all of) us’

In January 2018, politicians of Dutch populist right party PVV (Party for Freedom) walked the streets of Rotterdam with a banner saying ‘the Netherlands is ours’ (‘Nederland is van ons’), a claim that PVV leader Geert Wilders often makes to back up his anti-immigrant stance. Although Wilders is clear about who does not own the country (i.e., immigrants, Muslims), he is less clear about who does own the country.

Politicians of DENK, a political party mostly representing Islamic minority groups in the Netherlands, used this ambiguity to turn the exclusive statement of the PVV into an inclusive statement, by adding only one word. They responded with a banner saying ‘the Netherlands is owned by all of us’ (‘Nederland is van ons allemaal’).

Preliminary analyses on diverse, but non-representative data used in our project showed that 66% of native Dutch people at least slightly agreed with the statement ‘I think that this country is owned by us Dutch people’. However, only 48% percent at least slightly agreed with the statement ‘Dutch people have the exclusive right to decide about important Dutch matters’. This suggests that not everyone who feels that the country is ‘ours’ translates this feeling into exclusivity and may also see the country as something that is collectively owned by ‘all of us’.

Written by Tom Nijs