News - August 30, 2012

Which party wants what?

Election programmes from a Wageningen perspective

Who reads any of the election programmes? Let alone all of them. Well, Resource did. We looked at them from a Wageningen perspective. What do the major parties want for research, education and nature? Their promises give cause for optimism.
*Long live science! All the parties want to increase funding for scientific research. Things are looking up for basic research in particular. 'We oppose the trend of making scientists focus on research that brings immediate economic benefit', says the Socialist Party (SP). D66 and Green Left use similar wording.
*The conservatives (VVD), Christian Democrats (CDA) and Labour Party (PvdA) also want more money for basic research but they put the emphasis on the top sector policy. the CDA will give the biggest budgets to the best, most innovative candidates. The PvdA and D66 advocate economic innovation networks such as those around the 'talent towns' Wageningen (agrofood) and Leeuwarden (Wetsus).
*The end of the FES cash (natural gas revenues) means 2500 fewer PhD students in 2015. The PvdA wants to offset that loss as soon as possible.
*The SP advocates more research in order to achieve the climate objectives. The party wants more cash for research on the biobased economy and energy too. Businesses should help pay for this through higher taxes, says the SP.
*It wasn't possible to abolish the slow student fine before the election but its days certainly seem numbered. All the major parties oppose the fine with the exception of the Christian Union. Instead, the PvdA, VVD, D66 and Green Left want a social loan system to replace the current basic grant. The SP, CDA and Christian Union would rather keep the basic grant.
*The SP and PvdA want to change the recent proposed limitation to the public transport entitlement (Spring Agreement) to seven years. The Green Left party wants six years. The VVD and D66 want to limit the entitlement even further and replace the public transport card with a route card. The CDA takes a different approach: add 60 euros to the public transport smart card and students can use it how they want.
*The VVD wants academic and applied universities to offer special programmes for high-flyers. They can even decide themselves what tuition fees to charge.
*The SP wants to curb the practice of companies sponsoring chairs.
*Nature can look forward to a warmer reception after the chilly attitude of the previous cabinet. The PvdA wants to reverse all the cuts to nature. In fact, it wants to increase funding. The Labour Party says the farming subsidies from Brussels can be used to pay farmers for countryside management and nature conservation.
*The Ecological Main Structure (EMS) should be implemented in full, say the PvdA, SP, Green Left and D66, starting with Oostvaarderswold, the link between Flevoland and the Veluwe. The Christian Union wants to 'recalibrate' the EMS; it also wants more time for implementation. The VVD's priority is on reducing the scale and cost of the EMS. Surprisingly, the CDA doesn't mention the EMS in its programme.
*Green Left wants a Minister for Sustainability and Land who is in charge of the environment, nature, energy, agriculture, fishing, housing and spatial planning. The new minister will have the task of encouraging the efficient use of natural resources.
*D66, Green Left and the PvdA want a new Beautiful Netherlands Act that protects nature and the countryside as well as qualities such as silence, darkness at night and the splendour of the countryside.