A seat at the table for juniors
For the first time in the history of the formation process, young people are invited for a seat at the table. After the last elections, youth organizations have been asking for a say in the process. On May 12th 2021 a motion by the PvdA and the ChristenUnie has been approved that has given several youth organizations the chance to get a meeting with ‘informateur’ Mariëtte Hamer. The motion was filed due to the growing awareness of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on youngsters. The young generation is the most dependent of all generations on their social contacts and hobbies, which has lead to them being harmed the most by the measures against the pandemic than others. In their meeting with ‘informateur’ Hamer, the organizations have highlighted their most important themes. What themes are this, and what is the opinion of the political parties on these themes?
Two big themes for youngsters are the Dutch educational loan system and the climate crisis. Most students refer to the loan system as a failed experiment. During the last elections, it seemed like the political parties have been listening to this sound, as all parties, except for the VVD, are against the educational loan system. These parties want to reinstall the old educational basic grant system. However, most political parties did not give any attention to the generation that did not receive a basic grant over the past six years and that will be graduated whenever the new system will be implied. Student-organizations have been raising attention for a possible compensation for this group of students to make sure that they will not be forgotten. The loan system should have equalized chances for all students by making sure that the ‘the local baker does not pay for the study costs of the notary’s son’. Unfortunately, research has found that it has actually altered inequality as the middle income class has been harmed the most by the loan system. This income class make too much money to qualify for a supplementary grant, but has a too low income to actually support its children. There are actually many doubts on whether or not it is feasible to bring back the basic grant system. In time of the basic grant, many students needed to get a loan and this system would easily cost over one billion euro’s. These high costs could damage the proposed plans for more money to lecturers, research and study programs. For now, it seems like a deal could be made by increasing the maximum income for a student to qualify for a supplementary grant.
The climate crisis is an important theme for youngsters, as they think that too little is done too late to prevent future problems. In the letter of ‘de Jonge Klimaatbeweging’ (Young Climate Movement) to ‘informateur’ Hamer they called for sustainable political leadership in the form of an ambitious climate goal of -65% by 2030, an authority that controls for climate goals and structural system change. This system change should come in the shape of fundamental economical change, far-reaching green improvement of the tax system and a green industry. All recovery plans for the COVID-19 pandemic should enhance the green recovery of society, a plan should be made to stop being dependent of fossil industries and a clear climate test should be created to check all (new) government structures and their projects. The VVD and the CDA seem to reach for the weakest climate goals after the calculation of the electoral programs of the political parties by the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. Parties as GroenLinks, D66 and de PvdA are the only parties that actually reach the climate goals in time. In the formation process, climate will be a big subject in which all parties need to make sacrifices in order to come to a complete deal.
Other important subjects for the youth organizations are the shortage on the labor market and the housing problem. Youngsters have lost their (temporary) jobs during the pandemic and saw many organizations put a hold to their vacancies. Housing prices are higher than ever due to the shortage of houses, in combination with the high student debt and little job opportunities, it is almost impossible for young people to get a high enough mortgage to buy a house. The coming weeks will show whether the ‘informateur’ and the political parties have listened to the youth organizations and their important themes. Many organizations, like ‘coalitie-Y’, already have a strong network with several parties in The Hague and try to ensure their position at the table through these networks to make sure that their opinion is being heard.