Small Miracles

So while the supposed social democrat Jeroen Dijsselbloem — Dutch minister of finance and head of the Eurogroup — routinely denounces Greece’s “unwillingness” to reform its tax system, the Canadian mining company Gold Eldorado uses the Netherlands to avoid paying taxes in Greece. In 2013 and 2014, Ukrainian oligarchs were invited to the Dutch embassy by private Dutch law firms for a seminar about how to avoid taxes using the Netherlands. The Dutch Ministry of Finance and multinationals make so-called fiscal deals, the contents of which aren’t even disclosed to members of parliament. The panic of Dutch elites in 2009 shows just how sensitive they are about their international reputation. Spearheaded politically by the Greens and the Socialist Party, domestic pressure over the tax dodging is growing, and the mainstream media is reporting more and more frankly on the issue. The extreme center is fiercely resisting this pressure. Take, for instance, the unusual bill passed in 2013 with Labour Party backing that stated that the Netherlands is not a tax haven and asked the government to discourage use of the term (…) Unions have called for higher wages recently, but are not willing to strike to push for them, as that would jeopardize their institutionalized role in collective bargaining and in the government bureaucracy (unions being part of the country’s main policy-advising organization). This is reinforced by their close ties with the Labour Party. When that party is in office, large strikes are off the table. This is indeed symptomatic of the position of the Dutch left. Many social movements are institutionalized, with many NGOs financially dependent on the state. Politically, Labour denounces capital in elections but defends its interests tooth-and-nail when in office. Afterwards, ministers are whisked to high places in the financial sector.

David Hollanders in Small Miracles (Jacobin)