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Attention to education and culture at lowest point in 20 years

After an extensive content analysis of the coalition agreement, a sharp fall can be seen in the focus on education & culture, science & technology and defence. This is the conclusion of university public administration professors Gerard Breeman and Arco Timmermans. They compared the content with all coalition agreements in the Netherlands since 1963.

Below is the analysis:

That it is a headline agreement is also reflected in our analysis based on a systematic coding of all topics in agreements since 1963. At just under 11,000 words, the agreement is very short and it also has fewer different topics than previous agreements. There is still much further work to be done. Besides the statements that should express no-nonsense, many vague or general points have been mentioned. There is little chance that the four parties will agree among themselves immediately on all these points later.

Difficult task

This applies to the major declines in attention to begin with. Education & culture is at its lowest point in 20 years. This sharp fall in attention is accompanied by planned cuts. Reading all reactions to the accord, this will be another difficult task. Defence is also down this time, which is striking. The same goes for foreign trade. International tensions are mentioned, but the main line is still strongly focused on the Netherlands. More border surveillance is being done.

Most of the attention goes to crime

The biggest risers are not surprising. What is striking, however, is the combination of all the issues this coalition intends to tackle: fighting crime, migration & civil rights, a better functioning public administration and agriculture & fisheries. Most of the attention since 1963 has been on issues related to crime and security.

Migration is also prominent, but comparatively just a bit less than in 2010, when VVD and CDA signed a tolerance agreement with PVV. That did not last long then. There is also more attention to public finances than last time. The four parties' hobbyhorse topics are clearly reflected in the document.

This time there will be a lot less laughter

Hope perhaps from Omtzigt

The parties tried to capture it with a common motto: hope, guts and pride. The hope perhaps came from Pieter Omtzigt, the pride from Geert Wilders and the guts from Caroline van der Plas. Perhaps it is just a coincidence that a party leader is then missing when coming up with the coalition's motto.

Overall, the outline agreement contains the biggest shift in the focus on problems and solutions since the first Purple Cabinet of PvdA, VVD and D66 in 1994, exactly 30 years ago. Back then, when the cabinet took office, we saw a cheerful bunch of new ministers who were really looking forward to starting the job together. This time there is a lot less laughter and it seems that the four parties already know that it will be very difficult to implement all the plans.

Text and graphics: Arco Timmermans & Gerard Breeman

Photo: Pixabay

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