the EU-referendum: why GeenStijl won’t save the Netherlands

DISCLAIMER: I do not actively follow mainstream Dutch media or politics. This is just my interpretation of the referendum at this point in time.


So TWiR linked to this post by Real Gary, who writes that the no-vote in the recent Dutch referendum on Ukraine is a positive sign. I like to respond to that.

This referendum has definitely been a big deal in recent Dutch media. The final polling was impressive: a 32% total turnout and a 61% vote against the trading treaty. I get how one could interpret this as a promising sign, especially looking from the outside in. Yet I am skeptical and I will explain why.

The 3 driving forces behind the referendum are Forum voor DemocratieBurgercomitė-EUGeenstijl. ‘Forum for Democracy’ is such a bacon-and-beans player that I’ll ignore them from this point. Burgercomitė-EU is a 2013 founded Dutch crowdfunded organization that campaigns against the giving away of Dutch sovereignty towards Brussels. GeenStijl (NoStyle) is a 2003 founded Dutch media weblog. Geenstijl is by far the bigger player in this game. Dominque Weesie [Geenstijl founder] ‘describes it as a tough-talking, politically incorrect blog.’ Their blog is well-read by white higher educated males in their 20-40s. As of 2008 Geenstijl expanded to television in the form of PowNed.

Geenstijl does not have the same goals as the Burgercomité. Geenstijl explicitly does not take a stance against the EU:

” GeenPeil wil dat de kiezer weer serieus genomen wordt. GeenPeil wil daarom geen campagne voor of tegen de EU te voeren, maar om mensen zelf de keus te geven of ze voor of tegen meer Europese uitbreiding willen stemmen.”

Freely translated: “we are not campaigning in favor or against the EU, we are campaigning to give people a choice in the matter.”

Which through our patented NRx filter(c) roughly translates as: ‘If it sells we print.’

Geenstijl is owned by the company News Media. News Media on their turn are owned by the Telegraaf Media Groep, a company that also publishes the more sensational newspapers such as the Telegraaf, Sp!ts and Metro. So who owns Telegraaf Media Groep? Is it the Jews? I did not know and put on my tinfoil hat…

… Nope. It is in fact the van Puijenbroek family, a Dutch roman-catholic family. Hah. Silly tinfoil hat. So back to Burgercomité-EU, GeenStijl and the referendum. I think the events can be summarized as thus:

  • Burgercomité-EU tries to campaign for a referendum on an association treaty between the Netherlands and Ukraine. They need 300.000 signatures.
  • They fail to get signatures.
  • GeenStijl picks up the topic and hypes the referendum.
  • They get the signatures. The referendum happens. They need 30+% turnout.
  • GeenStijl hypes the referendum.
  • They win the referendum with a 32% turnout.
  • Parliament is panically debating what to do.

By now it is probably clear what I am getting at: this is not a Burgercomité victory. It is a Geenstijl victory. The people behind the Burgercomité want to confront the Cathedral, the van Puijenbroeks want their media empire to not go broke. For the former to happen a lot more needs go to wrong first. The well will only be closed after the calve has drowned.

So, what’s in store for the future? Perhaps the Burgercomité might accomplish change someday. However their comment section does not look hopeful. The van Puijenbroeks are the real winners here. As for their fate, this article contains a good concluding quote: “Kortenhorst placht in later jaren de grap te maken dat De Telegraaf dank zij de schatrijke Van Puijenbroek voortaan ‘de meest katholieke krant van Nederland’ was. Katholiek is de krant allang niet meer; de nieuwe religie van de NV Holdingmaatschappij De Telegraaf is de advertentiemarkt.”


2 thoughts on “the EU-referendum: why GeenStijl won’t save the Netherlands

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