The Dutch Parliament has an odd relationship with flags. As odd as it may sound, the Dutch flag isn’t present in the plenary room of the House of Representatives. While it is normal to see national flags in governmental buildings and plenary rooms in most countries, the Netherlands actually refused to fly its own flag, despite many nationalists such as Geert Wilders arguing for that to be changed.
During the first debates about Rutte III’s coalition agreement, the leader of the SGP (Reformed Political Party, orthodox Calvinists), Kees van der Staaij, put forward a motion to hoist the flag in the plenary room of the Dutch Parliament. The motion gained support from a large majority of the Dutch MPs.
However, what really stands out about this row is that the leader of the Dutch greens, GroenLinks (GreenLeft), Jesse Klaver, suggested that the European 12-star should be hoisted alongside the Dutch flag. Van der Staaij refused to incorporate that into his motion.
Why should we care? It’s just a piece of cloth, right? Actually, it is far from that, and we should definitely care. Flags are all about symbolism, and so is one’s (un)willingness to hoist one. The reluctance of the Dutch lower house to hoist the flag of Unity is a very symbolic way of expressing the Dutch stance on the EU during Rutte’s third term in office, as it shows that the Dutch will not join Macron in his new wave of European enthusiasm, though that had already been made clear in the coalition agreement.
External contribution by Christiaan De Vries