The Quiet Revolution in Dutch Politics. How Economics Changed the Norms for Dutch Electoral Programs

Anno LV, n. 227, gennaio-aprile 2020

Anno LV, n. 227, gennaio-aprile 2020
Centro Einaudi
Articolo completo/Full text


For a long time, The Netherlands was the only country in the world where political parties voluntarily submitted their election programs to an economic and econometric audit by an independent agency, which evaluates the internal consistency of the programs and their expected economic effects. This tradition has gradually evolved over a period of more than 40 years and it has profoundly changed the behavior of political parties and improved the quality of Dutch democracy. The article tells the story of how this tradition established itself. It then gives an explanation of how it could arise in The Netherlands after the Second World War. The explanation involves the central position of Jan Tinbergen in Dutch economics and in the institutional environment of the Dutch economy, the political concertation or polder model, the independent and critical press, and exogenous economic developments. The final part argues that the lessons from the Dutch experiment may be used for trying to introduce the habit of imposing a minimum of financial and economic discipline on electoral programs in Italy.