King and prime minister praise Duncan Laurence for Eurovision win

The king and queen, and the prime minister have sent congratulations to Duncan Laurence for his Eurovision Song Festival win – the first Dutch victory since 1975. ‘We are proud of Duncan Laurence, who has conquered Europe with his musical quality, delivered a win for the Netherlands for the first time in 44 years and brought the song festival to the Netherlands next year,’ king Willem-Alexander and queen Maxima said on Twitter. “Duncan’s song is a winning game! Wij zijn trots op Duncan Laurence die Europa met muzikale klasse heeft veroverd, Nederland voor het eerst in 44 jaar weer winst heeft bezorgd en het Songfestival volgend jaar naar Nederland haalt!” - WA en Máxima. #songfestival #eurovision — Koninklijk Huis (@koninklijkhuis) May 18, 2019 Prime minister Mark Rutte described Laurence’s performance of his ballad Arcade in Tel Aviv as ‘sublime and powerful’ and praised the way he made his position as the bookies’ favourite a reality. Eurovision pundit Leo Blokhuis told Dutch radio that Laurence was 'eight times better than Madonna’ the guest performer, who was criticized for her 'excruciating' performance in the break before the votes were announced. Laurence has a ‘God-given voice,’ Blokhuis said. The Dutch entry was third after the jury results but moved into the lead with the public votes. Italy finished in second place and Russia third. At a press conference after his win Laurence told reporters his heart was beating incredibly hard while the votes were being announced. 'The votes take a long time. Next year we shouldn't do that, you could get a heart attack from it,' he said. 'I didn’t dare to dream to win this trophy, because this is Eurovision and anything can happen, and that’s why I love Eurovision,' he said. 'But it happened, the predictions came true, but still I kept seeing them as predictions. [The win] is the result of the hard work as a team.' The Netherlands last won Eurovision in 1975 with Teach-In and the immortal Ding-a-dong. The Common Linnets and Calm after the Storm came second in 2014. More on the contest  More >

Baudet under fire for neo-fascist film

Forum voor Democratie leader Thierry Baudet has come under fire for retweeting an anti-immigrant video by a far right German women's group for the second time. The video features several young white women describing how they are 'not safe because you refuse to protect us' and stating that they have been 'sacrificed and sold'. 'Thanks to your immigration politics, we will soon be facing a majority of young men from a society that is the enemy of women,' the text states, which has been translated into Dutch in Baudet's retweet. The speakers in the video repeat the phrase 'Ich habe es gewusst' - literally 'I knew' several times at the end of the film - a reference to the phrase 'wir haben es nicht gewusst' or 'we did not know', said to describe German attitudes to the Holocaust post WWII. The phrase 'Ich habe es gewusst' is also stamped over photos of Mark Rutte, Jesse Klaver and Rob Jetten which have been added to the end of the film in the new version. In his retweet, Baudet states 'goosebumps and so true'. 'Vote for FvD to fundamentally change immigration policy,' he said. Oef. Kippenvel. En zo waar. Stem #FVD om het immigratiebeleid fundamenteel te veranderen. 23 mei. — Thierry Baudet (@thierrybaudet) May 17, 2019 D66 leader Rob Jetten has accused Baudet of 'gutter politics' for spreading the video. 'By linking Rutte, Klaver and myself to rape and referring to the Holocaust, Baudet has shown his most sickening side,' Jetten said. Baudet first retweeted the video in January 2018, without the Dutch subtitles or the attacks on Dutch politicians at the end. The film was made by women who are known associates of the neo-fascist Identitäre Bewegung group, and call themselves 120 Dezibel. Over 1,000 people have commented on the use of the video in Baudet's own time-line, most of which are highly critical. Some also refer to anti-women comments made by Baudet himself. Dit uit de mond van iemand die Julien Blanc een held noemt... — Bianca Jansen (@BiancaJansenDH1) May 18, 2019   More >

Wilders joins far-right rally in Milan

The far right European parliamentary faction founded five years ago by Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen held a rally in Milan this weekend in an attempt to widen its influence and consolidate the far-right parties in the European parliament. The ENF (Europe of Nations and Freedom) grouping in Europe, currently has 35 seats and is the smallest in the parliament. Wilders, Le Pen and several other far-right leaders were in Milan for the meeting which included Italy's current home affairs minister Matteo Salvini, Germany's AfD plus Czech and Bulgarian nationalist parties. However, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party who have according to Euronews, refused to form any form of alliance with Le Pen, were not present in Milan. 'Marine Le Pen and I had a real job putting this party together five years ago, and now there are twice as many of us,' Wilders told the NRC ahead of the meeting. 'We want to work with the heroes of Europe against the European Union monster. We may be the third-biggest grouping, perhaps even bigger.' Opinion polls suggest Salvini's Lega is on target to deliver 26 MEPS to the new group, with Le Pen's revamped RN on 20 and the AfD on 11. Support for Wilders' anti-immigrant and anti-EU PVV, however, is set to shrink in next Thursday's election as voters turn to the pro-Nexit Forum voor Democratie. But Forum campaign leader Derk-Jan Eppink said in April the party will not join Wilders' far-right platform. 'Working with Mrs Le Pen is a bridge to far for us,' Eppink said. In February, Forum agreed to join the European Conservatives and Reformists group which includes Britain’s Conservative party and Poland’s ruling PiS. The nationalist Sweden Democrats are also members. Two Dutch Protestant parties – the fundamentalist SGP and government party ChristenUnie – are also members of the ECR with one MEP each. Split ChristenUnie leader Gert Jan Segers repeated on Saturday that his party would not join a European parliamentary grouping which included Forum, broadcaster NOS reported. The party's position on climate change and support for a Nexit are main stumbling blocks, he said. 'We will have to find another grouping and that is what we are now thinking about,' he said. The fundamentalist SGP said it had no objections to working with Forum but that it would stick with ChristenUnie and look for a new home.  More >

Dutch cancel casino privatisation

The Dutch government has cancelled plans to privatise the state-owned Holland Casino group because it cannot count enough backing in the senate, the AD said on Friday afternoon. Senators did in February back plans to licence other online gambling providers in the Netherlands and senators want to give this change time to take effect, the paper said. In addition, senators are concerned that privatised casinos may encourage gambling and are worried about the way that the government planned to proceed with the privatisation process. The draft legislation was approved by MPs two years ago. The plan included selling 10 of the 14 branches under their current name while the other four locations would have been sold as a group. The cabinet had also planned to open up the casino market to new providers – with two licences up for grabs. The FNV and De Unie unions have welcomed the move. They were concerned that privatisation would worsen working conditions.   More >

Zuidas ring road plan in trouble

The massive civil engineering project to place part of Amsterdam's ring road underground and expand the railway station at the Zuidas business district will be both delayed and more expensive than in the original plans, transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen has told MPs. The commissioners of the work - national and local government and rail company ProRail - are 'concerned' and 'intense discussions and monitoring' are taking place, the minister said. The complexity of the Zuidasdok plan, which was originally slated for completion in 2028, is one of the main reasons for the delay. In February it emerged that the design phase of the project would take a year longer than planned and now the new schedule is also under pressure, the minister said. The delays, she said, could have consequences for the financial feasibility of the project. 'A good and complete integral plan is taking more time than expected, the building costs are going up and changes needed to be made to the contracts,' the minister said. More certainty about the planning and the costs will only be given after the initial planning phase is completed, the minister said, adding that the aim is to move on with the project after the summer. A consortium made up of Dutch construction group Heijmans, Fluor of the US and Hochtief of Germany won the preliminary contract for the €1.4bn project in 2017.  More >

Check your blood pressure: Hartstichting

Heart health organisation Hartstichting is starting an awareness campaign to highlight the dangers of high blood pressure. The organisation will be making blood pressure measuring equipment available at various public locations, such as libraries and supermarkets, between May 27 and June 8. Advice on a healthier life style will also be available. The organisation said many people have no idea they are suffering from high blood pressure which can affect the heart, brain and other organs and lead to strokes and heart attacks. The Hartstichting found that one in three people in the Netherlands between the ages of 30 and 70 have high blood pressure or are taking medication to combat it. Four in 10 of people suffering from high blood pressure in this age group are unaware their blood pressure is too high. ‘High blood pressure doesn’t always present symptoms but it is doing damage all the same, for instance to blood vessels, the heart and the brain,’ family doctor and Hartstichting spokesman David Smeekes told broadcaster NOS. That is why measuring blood pressure should become just as normal as going to the dentist for a half-yearly check-up, Smeekes said. The Hartstichting estimates that 6,000 new cases of heart disease and 1,500 deaths could be avoided annually if the population’s blood pressure were to drop, something that could be achieved by cutting down on smoking, salty food and by exercising more.  More >

12% of EU nationals in NL can vote

Just 12.2% of EU nationals in the Netherlands are registered to vote in next week's European elections, according to calculations by The national statistics agency CBS said on Friday that 3.6% of the total 13.5 million people who can take part in Thursday's vote are EU nationals - a total of 491,000 people. But figures from the home affairs ministry show just 60,000 EU citizens are actually included on the voting register, meaning just over 12% will actually be able to vote. Registration had to be completed by April 9. Research by has shown many Dutch towns failed to inform EU residents that they have to sign up to a register to receive a ballot paper. Haarlem, Lisse, Oss, Rijswijk, Roermond and Amersfoort are among the places where EU nationals complain they were not informed about registration. 'I have been here for 20 years but was not contacted by the gemeente in Lisse,' one reader said. 'I can understand no longer being registered to vote in UK as I have been gone too long but I just assumed that the Netherlands would at least give me the option.' Haarlem A spokeswoman for Haarlem town council told it had written to all EU nationals in January informing them about their right to vote and that they had to register to do so. The letter was sent in Dutch, English, French and German, the spokeswoman said. In total, 592 EU nationals are registered to vote in Haarlem, out of 6,744. has asked the home affairs ministry and several other local authorities to comment on the problems. Of the total number of EU nationals in the Netherlands who would have been eligible to vote, 24% are Polish, 14% German and 9% from Britain. Non-Dutch EU nationals are largely in the 25 to 35 age range, the CBS said.  More >