Science - April 19, 2012

‘G500 lacks unifying message'

The youth of the Netherlands are taking action. The ‘G500' headed by Sywert van Linden has drawn up a manifesto of political changes young people want implemented. Public policy specialist Gerard Breeman finds it a good initiative but too limited.

‘Fantastic, of course, in one respect. Good that the younger generation is taking action and defending its interests. You sense that everywhere: the media are giving a lot of sympathetic attention to the points made by the G500 and Van Linden. But what are those points? Restrict the tax-deductibility of mortgage interest, a fair allocation of pension provisions. It is all very pragmatic and opportunistic. You might be able to discern a call for solidarity among the young, but that's about it. The G500 concludes that there is no proper representation of the interests of young people but does not explain why or provide an alternative. There is no unifying message. That is a shame, a missed opportunity.
The G1000 movement in Belgium goes deeper in that regard. It identifies problems and then advocates a change to the system to prevent a repeat of such problems in the future. But it might be because here in the Netherlands we think we have got good basic arrangements. We don't see any great need for major changes as long as we are happy.
Another thing I miss is the international aspect. These days young people travel around the globe, study abroad through Erasmus and chat with their peers all over the world. But look at the G500: Dutch problems with Dutch solutions. When recent experiences have shown us just how much the Netherlands depends on the EU and the rest of the world.
The way the G500 adopts a position outside of the political spectrum and really addresses all the parties is not new either. We live in a time when cross-party ‘movements' and one-issue parties are becoming increasingly important as a vehicle for achieving goals. I don't object to that, it's a fact of life. Governance is a dynamic process with a continuous search for new paths. The G500 is an appealing but modest new player in this process.'

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