News - April 19, 2012

Is Queen's Day over the top and has gone on long enough?


Marlies Bos (the left-wing fluffy type) and Jillis Herweijer (the right-wing Hooray Henry type) rarely see eye to eye on matters of politics, the environment or student life

Marlies: Time and again, people turn against the royal family and the main reason they give is that it is not a democratic institution and costs too much money. To start with, it does not cost all that much in reality, since Dutch business actually benefits from it. And that is not the only advantage to it. Even just having a head of state who has no political say is an advantage, especially in this era of polarization. I think we really need a head of state who stands for unity and concord - in our foreign affairs as well as at home. And then I really don't fancy the political circus you get with presidential elections - which costs a bomb too, by the way. The queen doesn't have any political clout so I don't see a problem for democracy.
Jillis responds:  The royal family certainly does have an influence - in the Council of State, for example, which Willem-Alexander and Maxima are on (even if they do not have formal voting rights). And it is the queen who appoints someone to form a cabinet. As for the unity and concord, I don't really see that, considering the number of people there are who don't want a monarchy at all. Let's get rid of this mediaeval system please!

Jillis: The royal family is an anachronism. An institution as undemocratic as that, with so much power, does nothing for a democracy that aims to be as transparent as possible. Of course, in Beatrix we have a reasonably effective head of state this time. But history shows that we have been less lucky often enough and have had some totally unstable characters on the throne. Another thing: it's pretty scary to see what happens to someone who throws a tea light at the royal carriage or suddenly screams during the remembrance day ceremony at the Dam. These are fairly innocent acts but as soon as the royal family is involved, the consequences are quite far-reaching. A republic may cost more money, but at least we have more control over who is in power. And a president can be dismissed. Certainly when I look at our future head of state I think we should hurry up and make the switch to a republic.
Marlies responds:
'So much power' is nonsense: the queen has practically no political influence. It seems logical to me that even relatively harmless attacks on the queen are punished more severely (and what has that got to do with this whole discussion anyway?) It is just a fact that she runs more risks by appearing in public. Incidentally, I do think that it should be possible to dismiss a monarch who does the job badly.