Tag Archives netherlands

The East African Community’s regional economic integration efforts are starting to pay off – here’s why to take note

The East African Community’s regional economic integration efforts are starting to pay off – here’s why to take note

Good news about Africa always seems to travel slowly. The East African Community has successfully been pushing for regional economic integration in East Africa, but not everyone has gotten wind ...

Do we ever learn? Collective memory as a blind spot in KNAW report on pandemics

Do we ever learn? Collective memory as a blind spot in KNAW report on pandemics

In its latest advisory report ‘Met de kennis van straks’ (‘With the knowledge of later’), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) maps out what Dutch science and ...

Transformative Methodologies | Changing minds and policy through collaborative research?

Can collaborative research with marginalised communities be transformative, turning around unjust social relations, and supporting solidarity and rights in a practical sense? In this blog post, we (Jack Apostol, Helen Hintjens, Joy Melani and Karin Astrid Siegmann) reflect on this question based on our experience with the PEER approach, a participatory research methodology, that we used in a study on undocumented people’s access to healthcare in the Netherlands. The answer? We posit that the claim that social science methodologies can directly transform social realities, may be raising expectations too high, at least for the PEER approach. Yet, dissolving barriers between academic and non-academic knowers might be useful in itself, leading to greater respect for, and the amplification of the voices of marginalised people.

What is PEER?

PEER stands for Participatory Ethnographic Evaluation and Research. The participatory aspect stems from the involvement of members of marginalised and stigmatised communities as co-researchers. It is used in contexts where it is essential to build trust, where new insights are needed, and where the underbelly of sensitive topics can be exposed through mostly non-directive (open-ended) interviews with hard-to-research and marginalised groups in society. Examples of such topics include research on sexual health, sex work, the illicit or informal economy, and refugees on the move.

 

PEER research on undocumented people’s access to healthcare

We used the PEER methodology to understand the puzzle of why undocumented people in the Netherlands rarely access healthcare, despite their health rights being formally guaranteed in Dutch and EU regulations. Our research team consisted of people based at universities, like Helen, Karin, and our colleague Richard Staring, and non-academic experts from a group of undocumented peer researchers, including Joy and Jack. Interview questions were developed within the team, with peer researchers knowing best how to address sensitive issues with other undocumented people. Once interviews were concluded, debriefing meetings with the peer researchers formed the starting point of our data analysis.

The benefits of the PEER methodology for accessing and learning from people, who have good reasons to remain under the radar, came out clearly in our study. Joy highlights trust as the main advantage of reaching out to fellow undocumented persons for an interview: “Undocumented people cannot trust anyone. But if we interview them, they know that we are undocumented, and they can open up easily. They can tell the real story, their own emotions, and experiences. Because they know, having the same situation, you can understand them, how they feel, their thoughts.”

Time constrains were tough for peer researchers for whom research came on top of their normal working day. Working as a domestic worker full time, Jack recalls: “I worked as a full domestic worker that time. I started my work from the morning until 6 in the afternoon. Attending workshops and meetings during the whole period of PEER research project were a challenge to me. Usually, I rushed to the evening meetings at ISS [International Institute of Social Studies] after my whole day work. This made me physically and mentally a bit tired to participate in the discussion and share my ideas. Sometimes, I came late due to extra work. But I ought to do it as part of my commitment to the project.”

Two PEER researchers simulating an interview during training, August 2014, The Hague

So can the PEER Methodology change minds, influence policy?

Contributing to social change clearly motivated Jack:

“First, I believed that the project was for the well-being of the undocumented migrants in the Hague. This was about a health issue which was vital for the interest of the undocumented migrants whose access to medical care had been hindered by lack of information, discrimination, and ignorance of some medical professionals about the existing health policy of the government.” But what is the actual potential of such collaborative research to transform the injustices that undocumented people experience? Jack soberly concludes that any broader impact depends on the political context: “Absolutely, a rightist government is against migrants. Any outcome of the research based on a PEER approach would not actually convince the rightist government to take initiatives to change their policy in favour of migrants.”

This suggests the practical limits of what one can realistically achieve with academic research under an illiberal dispensation. On its own, without a shift in attitudes, social research cannot shift policy parameters. As the saying goes, one can take a horse to water, one cannot make it drink! Yet PEER research does break down barriers. The status-quo that segregates undocumented people from the rest of society is challenged, as PEER researchers open doors to long-concealed stories of undocumented life in the midst of plenty. Those without status are respected experts in self-organisation, and can be supported to negotiate access to rights and services. In conclusion, one can highlight the vital transformative role played by migrant self-help organisations like Filmis and others, whose solidarity work has stepped up since the start of the COVID pandemic.

 

Opinions expressed in Bliss posts reflect solely the views of the author of the post in question.

About the authors:

Jacob Apostol is the co-founder and the current president of the Filipino Migrant in Solidarity (FILMIS) Association. He is a human rights advocate.

 

 

 

 

Helen Hintjens has been interested in pro-asylum advocacy for about 40 years now. She is inspired by the self-advocacy of those confronting current deterrence-based policies on migration and asylum.

 

 

Melanie (Joy) Escano is the Vice-President of Migrant Domestic Workers Union. She is also the co-founder and the current public relation officer of the Filipino Migrant in Solidarity (FILMIS) Association.

 

 

 

 

 

Karin Astrid Siegmann is Associate Professor in Labour and Gender Economics at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS).

 

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Transformative Methodologies | A reflection on collaborative writing across sex worker organisations and academia

Transformative Methodologies | A reflection on collaborative writing across sex worker organisations and academia

We – members of Empower Foundation – a sex workers’ rights organisation in Thailand – and two scholar-activists from International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS) in ...

Human Trafficking | How anti-trafficking governance is getting it wrong: consequences of the differential treatment of migrant worker groups in the Netherlands

Human Trafficking | How anti-trafficking governance is getting it wrong: consequences of the differential treatment of migrant worker groups in the Netherlands

In many countries, including the Netherlands, being an immigrant – or being perceived as one – is a key mechanism used to normalise job precarity and poorly paid work. From ...

EADI/ISS Series | Two faces of the automation revolution: impacts on working conditions of migrant labourers in the Dutch agri-food sector

by Tyler Williams, Oane Visser, Karin Astrid Siegmann and Petar Ivosevic

Rapid advances in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are enabling production increases in the Dutch agri-food sector, but are also creating harsh working conditions as the sector remains dependent on manual labour, while implementing new technologies. To ensure better working conditions for migrants forming the majority of manual labourers in this sector, ‘worker-friendly’ implementation of new technologies is necessary to limit the negative effects of the automation revolution.


The ‘Threat’ of Automation?

Decades-old debates about the extent of job loss induced by the automation revolution were re-ignited by the seminal work of Frey and Osborne (2013), who suggested large numbers of jobs would be replaced by automation. Where jobs are not lost, automation impacts labour conditions as facilities are geared towards the optimal use of new technology. Novel ICTs offer possibilities to increase labour productivity and to free workers from harsh and repetitive tasks (OECD 2018). Yet they also enable high levels of remote, covert monitoring and measurement of work, often resulting in increased work pressure and the risk of turning workplaces into ‘electronic sweatshops’ (Fernie and Metcalf 1998).

Ever since Keynes (1930) warned about “technological unemployment” in his essay ‘Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren’, tech innovations have been eliminating jobs across sectors (e.g., in manufacturing), while simultaneously leading to the creation of new types of work (e.g., machine engineers). However, the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ (Schwab 2016) currently taking place might differ from earlier ones: automation is accelerating, affecting a wider variety of jobs, and is now also penetrating sectors like agriculture. Likely candidates for new automation waves are ‘3D jobs’ (dirty, dangerous and demeaning) which are overrepresented in agriculture and often performed by migrant workers (manual mushroom picking, for example, which is physically demanding and carries myriad other risks like respiratory issues). Therefore, this sector – understudied in research on automation – deserves attention.

Farm Robots and Migrant Workers

‘Milking robots’, drones, and (semi-)automated tractors have appeared on farms in the U.S. and the EU. As the second largest exporter of agricultural products and the ‘Silicon Valley of Agriculture’ (Schultz 2017), the Netherlands is at the forefront of such innovations. Yet despite this position, Dutch agriculture still depends strongly on manual labour, as the complexity and variability of nature (crops, animals, soils, and weather) have hampered automation.

Technological innovation and the recourse to low-paid, flexible migrant labour in the Dutch agri-food sector both represent cost-saving responses to the increased market power by supermarkets (Distrifood 2019) and the financialisation of agriculture. A FNV (Federation of Dutch Trade Unions) representative asserted: “Employers see those people as machines […]. Employers need fingers, cheap fingers, if I may call it like that”[1].

However, an educated migrant workforce provides benefits to employers beyond ‘cheap fingers’. The majority of labour migrants from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the largest group of migrant labour workers on Dutch soil (CBS 2019), hold a post-secondary education (Snel et al 2015: 524). As the Dutch are reluctant to do the low-paid 3D jobs, agriculture depends heavily on migrants from CEE countries, especially from Poland (Engbersen et al 2010). An estimated 30 percent of all CEE migrants in the Netherlands work in agri-food, contributing almost 2 billion euros to the country’s GDP in that sector (ABU 2018).

While technology can and does assist in and accelerate the harvesting process, this educated workforce can flexibly perform manifold tasks like identifying and communicating inconsistencies in products or processes to their supervisors, including plant illness, irregular production, etc. This makes them invaluable in improving agricultural production processes and output[2]. However, their working conditions remain precarious. Consequently, grasping the impact that technological innovations have on agriculture necessitates studying transnational labour.

To this end, ISS scholars – with the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) – initiated a research project titled ‘Technological change in the agro-food sector in the Netherlands: mapping the role and responses of CEE migrant workers’. So far, it has included interviews with organisations in the agri-food sector, trade unions, engineering/labour experts, and migrant workers; this formed the basis for the MA theses of Petar Ivosevic and Tyler Williams. First results were discussed during an ISS workshop with practitioners in December 2018, and a follow-up workshop will be held on 17 March 2020. In addition, two sessions on the topic will be organised at the 2020 EADI Conference taking place from 29 June to 2 July at the ISS.

Industry versus Workers

To date, the benefits of automation for industry and farm workers are highly unevenly distributed. For example, technologies such as (semi-)automated LED lighting allow for more crops to be grown indoors, accelerating crop growth and extending the growing season. This benefits the agricultural industry and supermarkets by leading to all-year production. It also initially improved agricultural labour conditions: workers received a more stable, year-round income and a reduction in time spent working outdoors in difficult weather conditions. However, these improvements also brought negative consequences for labourers. The workweek increased (from 40 to roughly 60 hours – occasionally 80 hours – per week), and smart LED-lighting technologies, sterile environments, and novel ways of conserving heat and humidity created harsher working conditions (cf. Pekkeriet 2019).

Moving Forward

 How can decent labour conditions for (migrant) farmworkers be ensured while further automation of agricultural workplaces takes place? First, further research involving (migrant) workers themselves, growers, and other practitioners is needed to inform policy. So far, policy debates on the future of agriculture have paid only scant attention to (migrant) workers and labour conditions. Farm labour ‘shortages’ in agriculture are often narrowly and one-sidedly discussed in terms of supposed ‘unwillingness’ to work in agriculture per se or the tendency of CEE migrants to return to their home countries where economic growth has picked up. Such a position ignores the harsh (and often insecure) working conditions or postulates them as a given. It strongly underestimates the (potential) role of ‘worker-friendly’ implementation of new technologies and decent labour conditions in shaping the quality (and attractiveness) of farm work. Support from Dutch labour unions – which have started to organise and include CEE migrant workers – could increase migrant workers’ voice. Insecure, dependent work arrangements, language problems, and fragmentation of the migrant workforce have thus far impeded migrants’ own collective action. Finally, food certifications in the Netherlands primarily target food safety and sustainability. Including social (labour-related) criteria would reward farms with sound labour conditions[3].


[1] FNV Representative. 18 June 2018, interviewed by Karin Astrid Siegmann and Petar Ivosevic.
[2] Municipality Westland Presentation, World Horticulture Centre, 19 February 2019.
[3] For instance, the pillar of fair food in the slow food manifesto includes respectful labour conditions.

This article is part of a series launched by the EADI (European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes) and the ISS in preparation for the 2020 EADI/ISS General Conference “Solidarity, Peace and Social Justice”. It was also published on the EADI blog.


Photo-Tyler-image1About the authors:

Tyler Williams recently completed the ISS MA Development Studies’ track in Migration and Diversity and co-organised the abovementioned workshop.

 

Foto-OaneVisser-Balkon-1[1]

Oane Visser (associate professor, Political Ecology research group, ISS) leads an international research project on the socio-economic effects of and responses to big data and automatization in agriculture.photo-KarinSiegmann-fromISSwebsite

 

Karin Astrid Siegmann is a Senior Lecturer in Labour and Gender Economics at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), studying how precarious workers challenge marginalization of their labour.Photo-Petar-image1

 

Petar Ivosevic graduated from the ISS MA program in Development Studies in 2018, with a major in Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies.

 

Venezuelan refugees on Curaçao have entered the Kingdom of the Netherlands! by Peter Heintze, Dorothea Hilhorst and Dennis Dijkzeul

Venezuelan refugees on Curaçao have entered the Kingdom of the Netherlands! by Peter Heintze, Dorothea Hilhorst and Dennis Dijkzeul

“Reception of refugees in the region” is a central concept in the foreign policy of the Dutch government. It means that the Netherlands wants to financially support countries that accept ...

The Netherlands and Colombia: A Blurry Alliance by Ana María Arbeláez Trujillo

The Netherlands and Colombia: A Blurry Alliance by Ana María Arbeláez Trujillo

The Netherlands may have found in Colombia a strategic partner to help expand its commercial activities, but Colombia’s complex social context needs to be carefully considered. Whether this alliance will ...

Striking for a transformative university by Karin Astrid Siegmann and Amod Shah

Budget cuts in higher education limit universities’ transformative potential. A big strike is therefore planned in the Netherlands for all sectors of education on 15 March 2019. This strike follows demonstrations amongst others by university staff and students in The Hague in December 2018. This post is a conversation between ISS PhD researcher Amod Shah and senior lecturer Karin Astrid Siegmann about what motivates them to participate in the protests.


Karin: So many people came for the demonstration in The Hague—many more than I had expected! There were 1,000, some say even 2,000 people. What motivated you to join, Amod?

Amod: I was very impressed at the size of the demonstration, too. Being part of an educational institution, an element of solidarity motivated me to join. And there are very real impacts of these proposed cuts on us as PhD researchers. We are already in a situation where there is limited capacity for PhD supervision and training because academic and administrative staff are stretched and need to balance research and teaching responsibilities. The budget cuts aggravate that. There’s also a broader discussion to be had: these cuts are huge and structural. What does that mean for the university?

Karin: I see people without permanent contracts and tenure often don’t dare to speak up, criticise, or do anything that would distract their attention from getting those publication points necessary to get tenure. Overall, I see a move towards the neoliberalisation of universities: universities are more and more managed like ‘knowledge factories’. There’s more attention to quantifiable outputs than to the contents of your research, the meaning of what you teach, and of your research for society. To me, a public university should be a space where people manage to think out of the box, creatively for a better, more just society.

In my research and teaching, I use Polanyi’s work quite a bit. He looked at European societies from the perspective of efforts to commodify everything in society, driven by business interests and also pushed by governments. I see similar dynamics in the neoliberalisation of universities. Yet they are a space that should not be commodified in a healthy society. The effort will backfire, I think. But Polanyi also perceived simultaneous counter-movements by ordinary people, by social movements. I see the protests as such a form of resistance.

Amod: Very real conflicts of interest are created when, instead of government funding, you rely on a private organisation, foundation, or company to provide funds for research.

Karin: ‘Conflict of interests’ puts it very politely. I see an increasing influence of corporate interests that want to uphold the status quo. For instance, I see many more calls for research on climate change adaptation rather than what can be done to prevent climate change. That allows us to not question a westernised consumerist way of life, a dogma of economic growth.

For the ‘knowledge factory’, a similar model is being implemented not only in universities but also other sectors, such as in healthcare or in government offices where you should care about the public good rather than higher productivity. This model works through individualisation and competition. It provides disincentives for people to collaborate, but also encourages them to recycle their own work in order to make a career.

Such an individualistic model also makes it easier within institutions to divide and rule and silence critical voices. Michael Burawoy has written a really interesting class analysis of how a university manages to silence protest against new public management restructuring by dividing academic staff from admin staff, through the provision of some privileges to academic staff.

Amod: This is a very good point! As a former MA student and now as a PhD researcher, I see that playing out at ISS, too. By creating such differences—that as a PhD student you are not a student but you are not a staff member either—you intentionally or unintentionally harm the ability for people to collaborate.

We are of course aware that there are funding pressures, but it’s important not to let go of the ethos of a university that contributes to social change. There should be space for collaboration, to think more broadly, not to be oriented solely towards the next publication, or finishing your PhD or getting a job. There are universities and spaces where people are trying to get away from this rat-race kind of orientation The University of Gent is one example: their new system for faculty evaluation de-emphasises quantitative metrics and focuses on what faculty members are proud of[1]. There are real examples out there about how things can be better—these are not ideas which are just up in the air.

Karin: Yes, I was really touched by that example. Another example I have heard about is the planned cooperative university in Manchester. Because of the increasing privatisation in universities, students don’t have the funds to study. That way, universities becomes a more and more exclusive space. With a cooperative university, they want to develop an alternative model with students and staff as the main stakeholders.

Amod: For me, what’s happening in the Netherlands is symptomatic of a more global phenomenon, of the state withdrawing from higher education. What do you think?

Karin: I just referred to Burawoy’s class analysis of neoliberalised universities. I heard him speak about that two years back in Lahore, Pakistan, at a private university. I found it so interesting that somebody coming from a public university in the US presented an analysis that spoke both to the situation of students at a private, elite university in Pakistan and somebody like me who is teaching at a public university in the Netherlands. Very different contexts, but his observations rang a bell for so many people in the audience.

Amod: I would add to this the idea of the university as an egalitarian space, where people from very different backgrounds are able to come and study together. I think that’s a hallmark of public education across the world. This egalitarian space is one of the first casualties of the privatisation and neoliberalisation of higher education. I see that a lot in India now, with the mushrooming of expensive private universities.

Karin: I think even in the publicly funded universities in countries that claim to be very egalitarian like the Netherlands, you very often see the reproduction of class, racial, and gender hierarchies. I don’t pretend that right now public universities are egalitarian spaces. But in private universities, it is very clear that the customer-pays principle rules. Whereas in public universities you can contest that, and there’s space to demand more inclusiveness.

Amod: I agree. I think that’s what these protests are about—maintaining a space for contestation in the public higher education system.

Karin: So, we will take to the streets again on 15 March?

Amod: Yes!


The 15 March demonstration at Malieveld, The Hague will start at 12:00 (noon) and will continue until approximately 13:30.

[1] We would like to thank Zuleika Sheik for sharing this information.


Image Credit: Alice Pasqual on Unsplash


About the authors:

csm_5abd70057687ec5e3741252630d8cc66-karin-siegmann_60d4db99baKarin Astrid Siegmann is a senior lecturer in gender & labour economics at ISS.

 

 

 

amod-photoAmod Shah is a PhD candidate at the ISS.

 

The battle for Zwarte Piet: Everyday racism in the Netherlands by Dorothea Hilhorst

The battle for Zwarte Piet: Everyday racism in the Netherlands by Dorothea Hilhorst

Every year around this time, a major cultural and identity clash emerges in the Netherlands as proponents and opponents of Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa Claus) clash over Zwarte ...

The university of paleness by Willem Schinkel

The university of paleness by Willem Schinkel

In a recent attempt to address the underrepresentation of female professors in the Netherlands, the Dutch government made extra funds available to universities to appoint women. To the dismay of ...

Diversity in the Dutch local elections by Kees Biekart and Antony Otieno Ong’ayo

‘Migrant-led’ political parties are on the rise in the Netherlands—a natural reaction to extreme anti-migration populism of the past decade. Insights into the local elections held on 21 March 2018 across the country show us how the rise of parties led by migrants (so-called allochtonen) can diversify the Dutch political landscape in a positive way.


 

New political parties established by Dutch people with a migration background have been quite successful in the recent municipal council elections in The Netherlands. Especially DENK, a new party formed by people with a migration background (largely from Turkish and Moroccan descent) managed to attract unexpected levels of support. This is quite a contrast with four years ago, when the Freedom Party (PVV) of anti-Islam activist Geert Wilders secured a landslide win in two Dutch cities (The Hague and Almere).

This year, Wilders’s party decided to compete in thirty cities—the ones in which his support was largest during last year’s parliamentary elections. However, his performance was rather disappointing. Wilders and his party lost most of the seats it had acquired four years ago to local parties that the PVV had competed with. These local parties won almost a third of the municipal votes—an increase of ten per cent compared to four years ago. EU nationals and non-EU citizens who lived in the Netherlands for more than five years were also allowed to vote in the local elections. This feature of the Dutch electoral system makes the municipalities an important battleground of political participation.

‘Migrant’ parties: countering anti-migration populism

hsp logoThe boom of the new ‘migrant’ political parties—next to DENK also NIDA, the Islam Democrats, Platform Amsterdam, Ubuntu Connected Front, BIJ1 and the Party for Unity—can be understood as a natural reaction to extreme anti-migration populism of the past decade. This anti-migration sentiment has been echoed by several mainstream political parties, desperately trying to capture the Wilders constituency. That is why the Christian Democrats rallied for the reintroduction of the national anthem in primary school classes, and the liberal governing party VVD reconfirmed its support for Zwarte Piet, a popular (though racist) traditional celebration for young children which is increasingly challenged by a variety of Dutch citizens.

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 17.48.52

Not surprisingly, the new political party DENK attracted its support especially in a dozen cities that are known for their elevated migrant (and especially Turkish and Moroccan) population such as Schiedam, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Utrecht. DENK launched a targeted and effective election campaign, largely focusing on young voters via social media. There are also concerns, as DENK leaders have repeatedly voiced their support to the Erdogan government, and some even labelled Turkish parliamentarians rejecting Erdogan’s policies as ‘traitors’. But that seems to be a sideline, as DENK mobilised support particularly from those migrants that feel alienated by mainstream political parties who tell them to ‘better integrate into Dutch society’.

Platform AmsterdamThese voters with a migration background feel offended not only because second or third generation migrants were actually born here, but also because they experience discrimination on the labour and the housing market (even if they feel totally ‘integrated’). DENK (as well as the other migrant-linked parties) offer those ‘new Dutch citizens’ a platform that was absent in most mainstream parties, which often moved (for electoral reasons) closer to the xenophobic and Islamophobic position of Geert Wilders.UCF logo_3

Not surprisingly, there is also tension amongst migrants competing for Dutch council seats. Sylvana Simons, originally part of DENK, left after a conflict over strategic positioning. She is from Surinamese descent, with a more diverse Amsterdam constituency, and decided to run with her own party BIJ1 (“Together”). This new party also includes anti-Zwarte Piet activists from the African and Caribbean community who are generally not very well represented at the political level. The Ubuntu Connected Forum and Platform Amsterdam with largely African and Afro-Caribbean candidates, for example, did not get any council seats in the big cities. Still, Ugbaad Killincci, a young Somali woman, who had arrived as a baby to the eastern city of Emmen, was elected after racist action against her triggered a national campaign in the Labour Party (PvDA) rallying to elect her with preferential votes.

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The political party Bij1 (‘Together’) focuses on a ‘new politics’ of economic justice and radical equality.

Pre-election debates at ISSThe ISS was also involved in this debate on migration and its links to the Dutch elections by organising a public debate in which several local council candidates with a migration background participated. Half a dozen ‘migrant candidates’ brought their transnational linkages to the ISS in order to share their views and motivations to participate in these elections. Coming from Nigeria, Burundi, Suriname, as well as Turkey, they discussed how diversity played a role in the Dutch local elections. Key themes during the debate included perspectives on immigration and integration, economy and jobs, as well as public services.

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Debate held at ISS with representatives of ‘migrant-led’ parties before the Dutch local elections on 21 March 2018.

However, identity issues such as racism, gender and discrimination also emerged as critical topics in the debate. The candidates highlighted the value of their multiple and multi-layered identities, their civic commitment, and the need to leverage these linkages for the benefit of the Netherlands and countries of origin. These multiple identities reflect a demographic shift in the Netherlands, especially the increased multicultural feature of municipalities.

 

Politically, some structural shifts are happening with the ‘migrant vote’. It is about time, many migrants argue, since the majority of the population in the three biggest cities in the Netherlands now has a migration background. Still, we see migrant interests underrepresented and migrant delegates remaining the exception: migrant parties and migrant candidates overall achieved less than 8 percent of the municipal vote.

It is yet to be seen whether the newly established migrant-linked parties will gain more electoral support in the major cities; the increased competition amongst them for the same migrant constituencies may have a divisive effect, leading actually to reducing their seats in municipalities and councils. Notwithstanding, the tendency towards more diversity in Dutch politics is in motion if we look at the Chair of the National Parliament plus the mayors of Rotterdam and Arnhem being from a Moroccan background. Even though similar positions are not yet filled by persons with a Turkish, African, Asian or Caribbean background, this seems to be only a matter of time. The successes of the new migrant-linked political parties certainly are a promising step in that direction.


Main photo: Picture from DENK’s political manifesto stating that ‘people should be able to be proud of their heritage’.

csm_166bed604f68c0443160dc5f1905fa7a-kees-biekart_6d238c8725.jpgAbout the authors:

Kees Biekart is Associate Professor in Political Sociology at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

antony.pngAntony Otieno Ong’ayo is a political scientist by training and currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University in The Hague. he focuses on diaspora transnational practices, civic driven change, political remittances and transformations in the countries of destination and origin