Political engagement and cynicism go hand in hand

14/08/2008 15:00

One third of the Dutch population are politically active. They participate in discussions on political issues, demonstrate, sign petitions and contact politicians.

Ways to exercise influence on politicians or government in a period of five years by gender, 2006

Ways to exercise influence on politicians or government in a period of five years by gender, 2006

Green Left supporters ardent activists

One in three voters have attempted to somehow exercise influence on politicians or government members during the past five years. In 18 percent of cases they tried to contact politicians or government members through the Internet, by email or SMS. Just over 10 percent tried to come face to face with these politicians at government meetings or through the media (radio, TV, newspaper). About 4 to 5 percent took to the streets to demonstrate or tried to get their point across through a political party or organisation.
In the Green Left Party, 65 percent of male and 62 percent of female voters are politically active. Supporters of the Party for Freedom (PVV) and non-voters are less politically engaged.

Persons who have been politically active over the past five years by voting behaviour and gender, 2006

Persons who have been politically active over the past five years by voting behaviour and gender, 2006

Political cynicism widespread

Political scepticism is widespread. Two in every three individuals endorse the view that there is a gap between citizens and politics. Cynicism has grown. In 2006, 93 percent of the population thought that politicians wilfully make promises they know they cannot keep. In 1977, this was 79 percent; 42 percent think that ‘ministers and junior ministers only have their own interests at heart', as against 32 percent in 1977.
There is a correlation between political cynicism and education level; the higher the education level, the milder one’s attitude towards politics. Young people and women appear to be less critical than men. Higher incomes have a more positive attitude towards politics than people living on long-term low incomes. 
PVV supporters in particular are cynical, followed by Socialist Party (SP) voters. People who vote for the Green Left Party are the least cynical voters in the political spectrum.

Political cynicism by level of education, 2006

Political cynicism by level of education, 2006

Hans Schmeets