Former Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs, also former Secretary General of NATO Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says that the Netherlands political term gedogen cannot be translated.
He says that in connection with the planned participation by conservative party leader Geert Wilders in a demonstration against a Grand MOSQUE which might be built near Ground Zero in New York. The fear of the ruling Dutch parties is that Wilders may project the new Dutch government as anti-islam, which may (as de Hoop Scheffer says) harm Netherlands export chances.
He greatly worries that Geert Wilders will abuse of the fact that he participates in the newly planned government of the Netherlands, not as a direct partner in a coalition but as a supporter, a permitter from the outside. The Dutch accepted word for allowing the continuation of a government from the outside is “GEDOGEN”

My esteemed former colleague De Hoop Scheffer fears great confusion in New York about the true position of the new Dutch Government and damage to Dutch national interests as Wilders will exploit his role as “GEDOGER”, meaning more or less a silent partner of the Netherlands Government.

He maintains that Wilders would not even be able to translate that term to the New Yorkers , since no translation exists for “GEDOGEN”
However, our friend  de Hoop Scheffer may overstate that difficulty as the following table from a Dutch-English dictionary shows

1. gedogen [vc] (permit, allow, let, countenance) give permission.
2. gedogen [vc] (afford) be able to spare or give up.
3. gedogen [vc] (allow, grant) let have.
4. gedogen [vc] (admit, let_in, include) allow participation in or the right to be part of; permit to exercise the rights, functions, and responsibilities of.
5. gedogen [vc] (accord, allot, grant) allow to have.
6. gedogen [vc] (allow, permit, tolerate) allow the presence of or allow (an activity) without opposing or prohibiting.
..etcetera !

When Geert Wilders will be speaking in New York at Ground Zero he may say, when asked what is his part in Netherlands politics, that the Partij voor de Vrijheid allows the two other parties to go on with their governmental job and that he. – from the outside – will on important themes lend his support.
He could also say that with his political forces he will “let them” govern, “grant” them the governing function.

There are enough ways for him to express the idea.
And if I were to give Geert Wilders any advice (not having any further relation with him or with his party) it would be just to use the occasion and explain this peculiar element of Netherlands politics.I am sure the burghers of New York who have not yet forgotten Stuyvesant  and Roosevelt would listen with polite attention, happy to learn something new. It is again an element in which the Netherlands are an interesting country.
Doing a good educational job for our country on that occasion in New York might make Wilders a candidate for receiving a royal distinction when the appropriate times comes (for instance Koninginnedag, Queens Birthday).

There is a further reason why spreading in the world some knowledge on GEDOGEN might be an interesting and worthwhile task.
As also in other countries the established parties get into difficulty maintaining their position, and are more and more abandoned in favor of more populist movements, in those countries too the formation of governments may well become more troublesome.
The need to co-opt the populist movements and let them join government in a position of “Gedogen” may therefore become more and more frequent.

We might then foresee a future in which the word “gedogen” becomes a very recognized and respected political term in Europe. If Wilders explains that well enough, nobody will forget that the true original, like the true Goudse or Leidse Boerenkaas. old savoury cheese, comes from Holland.

We have very good export products, but once in a while we need to innovate.
“Gedogen” could well help us gaining an additional trademark.

Beijing 15 august 2010


About dutasia

Former Ambassador of the Netherlands, presently National Commissioner for Thailand and for Indonesia in the ICC, the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Business Organization. Chairman of China Carbon Forum in Beijing, China.
This entry was posted in EUROPE, Nederland, USA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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