Falling over their feet

Yesterday, friends collected me. We drove through town to their place. While turning around the Houses of Parliament, we were greeted by an astonishing sight.

The country is having an election today and it shows. Not in the number of placards asking the Dutch to vote left, right, or middle of the road is not astonishing. Nor through posters spelling a “Thank you Groningen!” – hinting at the gas field which exploitation brings in money.

The poster is ironic: gas extraction causes regular earthquakes, as the soil is caving in. All this causes damage to houses and buildings – in Groningen. Politicians in far-away The Hague are not much bothered by it. The media are even less bothered by it.

Yet it were these media causing our rubber-necked glassy looks left, right, middle of the road. For there were tv generator trucks sporting satellite disks left and right and outside the specially created parking spaces around the Dutch Houses of Parliament.

This morning, on our way to a local farmers’ market, it was even worse! The farmers’ market my friends support, had been banished to a building plot near the town hall – instead of taking place next the Houses of Parliament. Its regular space was needed for even more media trucks.

People nearly keel over, when they hear the Dutch can choose from 28 different parties. That is before they hear, that some parties have over 20 candidates. There are not just 28 parties, but 1116 candidates to choose from. It takes some time locating one’s favourite party and special candidate on such ballot papers.

Meanwhile, the Dutch Houses of Parliament are under siege, surrounded by well over 30 media trucks. A unique moment in the Dutch history – this media circus.

I knew CNN was covering, for yesterday, behind one of their anchors, CNN mixed pictures of The Hague and its Mauritshuis Museum with Amsterdam canals. While visiting The Hague or Amsterdam, please be careful with such antics. Locals do not appreciate such nonsense. As Erdogan now knows: it takes a while, but when provoked the Dutch turn nasty.

It was not just CNN in front of the Dutch Houses of Parliament. The legal and illegal media parking spaces were full of trucks showing Belgian, German, French, English and a great many other number plates. A few were even handily parked right next a local McDonald’s.

While the media are falling over their feet to catch Wilders, Rutte and any willing politician, the rest of the Dutch are also turning out in large numbers to vote. Or pretend to.

Take Amsterdam. It has the highest polling station in the country. At 100 meter above AOD or NAP, the Amsterdam Tower near Amsterdam’s EYE Museum,  is the most popular polling station in the city. Why?

Usually, this tower is closed to visitors, but not when housing a polling station. So the Dutch being very Dutch, they are falling over their feet to join the polling-queue here. For one can visit – for free! One gets a splendid view across Amsterdam – for free! Oh: provided one casts a vote – but hey, that doesn’t cost a penny either!



About Kate

Multilingual arts & culture journalist, blogger, columnist, writer and translator. Contributor to international (news) media. 2014 winning columnist Gentse Schrijversdagen, Gand, Belgium.
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