Three of the four largest parties either have no ambitious climate policies or even deny there is a problem. Two econometric students were so appalled by this that they decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister: “Rutte has to have read it, but we haven’t, as yet, had a response.”

Inspired by Rutte’s open letter in the national newspapers at the end of January, Jurriaan Wesselink and Tsjip van Hulst decided to reply to the Prime Minister. Rutte’s anxieties about the loss of a Dutch identity were replaced by their worries about the climate. “We have an increasing sense of unease when these politicians abuse their freedom to spoil our planet, while they’ve come to power to be responsible for the future. Politicians who do not want to adapt, run down ambitious ideas and reject climate values.”

The two students are studying for a master in Econometrics at EUR and, in the first instance, put the letter on Facebook themselves. There it quickly became ‘a hit’: the letter has received more than one thousand ‘likes’ and has been shared almost as many times. “Via via, the letter came to the attention of the NRC Handelsblad’s editorial staff, who were keen to publish it,” Tsjip van Hulst told us on the phone. And no sooner said than done.

Shocked by the election results

Tsjip van Hulst (002)
Tsjip van Hulst

Wesselink and he wrote the letter in response to the election results on 15 March. “When we heard the results, we started philosophising about the country’s future. We were shocked when we realised that three of the four largest parties – VVD (the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy), the CDA (the Christian Democratic Alliance) and the PVV (the Party for Freedom) – either have no ambitious climate policy or even deny there’s a problem. It was then that Jurriaan came up with the idea of writing a letter to the new Prime Minister,” explained Van Hulst.

“The letter just rolled out. I used Rutte’s letter as a basis: his figures of speech and terminology.” Consequently, the letter from the econometric students also contains words such as ‘gaaf’ [cool], ‘niet normaal’ [abnormal] and ‘asociaal’ [antisocial]. However, in the students’ letter, it isn’t ‘people’ who are behaving abnormally or antisocially, but Rutte’s party itself. Even the layout is comparable to that of Rutte’s open letter, although half of Rutte’s head has been replaced by half of a globe of the world.

Key question

In the penultimate paragraph, Rutte’s key question is repeated: ‘What sort of country do we want to be?’ The Prime Minister’s answer to this question? That is something the students are still waiting to hear. “We received a huge number of reactions and the letter was in a fairly prominent position in NRC’s opinion section, so Rutte has to have read it. But as yet we haven’t heard from him. I’m intrigued to know whether he intends to reply.”