The First King’s Speech by King Willem Alexander “Welfare state no longer sustainable”

POSTED: 09/18/13 1:40 PM

KWA and Max - Troonrede

With Queen Máxima by his side, King Willem-Alexander delivered his first Troonrede yesterday. Photo ANP / Lex van Lieshout

THE HAGUE – King Willem-Alexander dedicated the paragraph before last of his King’s Speech (Troonrede in Dutch)  at the opening of the parliamentary year in the Netherlands to the Caribbean: “The constitutional relationship between the Netherlands and the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom changed in 2010. Since that time there is more attention for economic cooperation. That is beneficial to all parties. It also contributes to the necessary financial independence and stability of the Caribbean islands. I will visit all six of them shortly together with queen Máxima.”

The king said in his first Troonrede that the consequences of the economic crisis make themselves increasingly felt. He was also positive by saying that there are cautious signals that the end of the crisis is near and that there is therefore a perspective for the Netherlands.

King Willem-Alexander hammered on “necessary reforms” that will cost time and ask for perseverance. He said that the Netherlands must become a strong country for self-conscious people. “Every citizen must grab the opportunity to fit the changes that await us into his own life.”

The king said that the welfare state as we know it is no longer sustainable. The Netherlands has to become “a participation society.”

“The classic welfare state from the second half of the twentieth century has produced regulations that are not sustainable in their present form and that also do not meet people’s expectations anymore. In these days, people want to make their own choices, organize their own lives and take care of each other. Organizing care and social facilities close to people fits with these developments.”

The king warned against the high debts of households and the weak capital position of banks. He also emphasized the importance to diminish the budget deficit.

The Troonrede did not reach out to the opposition. The cabinet depends in the senate on the support from opposition parties. Willem-Alexander did not address this issue directly. “The relationship between the parliament and the government is characterized by a lot of legislation in the coming year. Based on the governing accord and its execution in agreements with social partners and other social parties, the government will submit proposals to you.”

The Troonrede was sober and somber in tone of voice, NRC Handelsblad’s political editor Thijs Niemantsverdriet noted. “During the past crisis years there was always a peptalk element like ‘In the past we have often proven that we are able to fight back.’ That was missing this time, in that sense the king was sober and somber. Apart from that it was mostly the usual listing of policy measures.”

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