AbstractThe reinforcement of the democratic process in the Indische Buurt, a neighborhood of Amsterdam, between 1970-1990, was part of the reinforcement of the democratic process that was going on in the Netherlands in that period. In these decades several movements all over the world were striving for social changes. These protest movements used several forms of actions to give more strength to their demands. Various studies have been made to describe the start and cause of the protest movements in the Netherlands. Young people played a big part in the protest movements. They were part of groups who were called nozems, provo's and squatters. The government in the Netherlands was tolerant and tried to prevent the escalation of violence during demonstrations. Political parties adopted some of the demands of the protest movements whereupon the demands of the protest movements became issues for discussion in parliament and government.
In the Netherlands the movement of squatters was an important part in the struggle for public participation in the plans for city renewal that took place between 1970-1990. The plans to city renewal were a continuation of the functional way the new neighborhoods were built in the after war reconstruction of the city of Amsterdam. The inhabitants resisted these plans for large scale demolition and rebuilding and asked for public participation in the planning of the city renewal. Squatters moved in the blocks that were to be demolished and renovated them. This was going on in several neighborhoods in Amsterdam, as in the Indische Buurt, because lots of houses were sagging due to bad construction and needed renewal.
The reinforcement of the democratic process was started by civilian disobedience, which was, according to Schuyt an answer of civilians to social crisis like the housing shortage in that period. Squatters formed, according to Mamadouh, a social movement with a romantic view on city building and wanted a small scale city renewal and city rehabilitation. Inhabitants wanted the same. A neighborhood built on the principles of the romantic city view could provide for the grounds of democratization for the community of inhabitants, following the principles that Den Hartog describes. The reinforcement of the democratic process by public participation could also be a type of deliberative democracy as Grin and others write about. In this type of democracy civilians and officials join to work on a policy for a variety of social problems. The public participation in the Indische Buurt started in this fashion.
The city renewal plans evoked the start of various groups of inhabitants as Buurtoverleg (Neighborhood Council), Werkgroep Wonen (Housing Committee) en Samen Sterker (Stronger Together) who called for public participation and reinforcement of democracy in the process of city renewal. The squatters united in the Kraakbeweging (Movement of Squatters) Indische Buurt and joined the inhabitants in meetings to talk about the city renewal plans. Together they engaged in mostly legal actions accept for the illegal action of the squatting of apartments that would be demolished.
Together they held meetings with the institutions of the city council, the project group Indische Buurt, ABG, and the official of the neighborhood section of the city council, called voorpostambtenaar. Both institutions guaranteed the possibility for the city council to stay in touch with the inhabitants and squatters and formed the answer of the city council on the demand for public participation. Council officials of the community centre helped the inhabitants to organize into committees and were important for the reinforcement of democracy by means of public participation.
By giving the possibility for public participation the city council prevented violent escalation when eviction of houses was necessary. During the Experiment Indische Buurt officials and inhabitants joined to produce starting points for a policy of neighborhood renewal for the Indische Buurt, the Nota van Uitgangspunten Indische Buurt. This was a clear example of deliberative democracy as Grin and others pointed out in their study. The city renewal that followed was according to the romantic vision of city building and counted for the conditions for community building and democratization as Den Hartog describes. Public participation also existed in the contact between the official of the neighborhood section of the city council and the squatters while they sought together for solutions where squatters could live after eviction out of the apartments that would be demolished and rebuilt. In the case of the fight against the building of condo's the inhabitants were not granted the right of public participation. Instead the city council ordered to buy houses to prevent the building of condo's and built houses for people with low income.
The public participation did not succeed in preserving the neighborhood for the people who lived there. Three quarters of the people who originally lived in the Indische Buurt moved to houses outside the neighborhood. After the city renewal was completed the neighborhood still consisted of people with low incomes and little education, mostly migrant families.
A more complete picture of the reinforcement of the democratic process in Amsterdam during city renewal needs more research, because the research into in the Indische Buurt is too small to rely on. A research into the role of the Bureau Bestuurscontacten (Bureau Citizens Connections), the role of the official of the neighborhood section of the city council and into the role of the community workers in other neighborhoods in Amsterdam
could shed more light on the reinforcement of the democratic process by public participation in Amsterdam in the contacts between city council, inhabitants and squatters.
|Date of Award||21 Jul 2019|
|Supervisor||Janny Bloembergen - Lukkes (Supervisor) & Frank Inklaar (Examiner)|