Public debate on state of democracy

5th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

5 October 2007 , AMSTERDAM (dpa) - The Dutch are due to launch a public debate on the state of their national democracy Friday.

5 October 2007

AMSTERDAM (dpa) - The Dutch are due to launch a public debate on the state of their national democracy Friday.

The week-long event is to be launched on public television Friday evening with the publication of the largest opinion poll ever held on the state of the Dutch democracy.

Some 200,000 Dutch nationals spent 21 minutes between August and October 1 filling out an online survey developed by consultancy company McKinsey. The survey asked Dutch citizens about the state of Dutch democracy, civil rights and current affairs.

The Dutch democracy week is part of a global event, Why Democracy?, a project initiated by 40 international television broadcasters.

Among them are the BBC, Finnish and Danish public broadcasters, as well as the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television channel. The international free newspaper Metro is also participating in the event.

Between 5 October and 12 October the 40 broadcasters participating in the global event will air a variety of talk shows, documentaries and movies dealing with the theme of democracy.

They hope to reach an audience of some 300 million people in Europe and beyond.

Independent filmmakers from China, India, Japan, Liberia, US, Bolivia, Denmark, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan and Russia have made films on a great variety of subjects.

There are documentaries on themes as diverse as torture methods employed by the authorities in the US, the election of a class monitor in a Chinese primary school and the scandal arising from the publication of caricatures of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper.

The audience is invited to join in the national and international debate in real life and in internet-based discussions.

There will be public debates in several cities, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

On the website (we are the boss), Dutch nationals can participate in a number of debates on how to improve Dutch governance and local democracy.

Most of the polls carried out in the Netherlands match personal preference with official party programmes, not with actual policies practised once politicians are elected in parliament.

The poll developed by Institute for Public and Politics (IPP) for Democracy Week is based on political choices made by the legislators after their election in parliament.

By asking people their opinion on 25 current affairs issues in national politics, the poll will then make voting recommendations to people based on legislators' actual political behaviour.

The results from the last similar poll developed by IPP, in which some 100,000 people participated, demonstrated the enormous gap between the Dutch electorate and the legislators.

On some issues, up to 85 percent of the voters diverted from the legislator's opinion.

The symbolic election of a new national anthem by Dutch media on 10 October  also forms part of the week.

The week will close on 12 October with a special debate aired on national public television, in which Dutch nationals may put questions directly to Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

[Copyright dpa 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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