“Heerma, Not Like This!”: Social housing, neoliberal reform and resistance in the Netherlands 1986-1995
Poel, Jarne van der
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With contemporary protests calling for an end to the neoliberal paradigm in public housing, the central aim of this thesis is to determine how and because of whom neoliberal ideas have become embedded in Dutch public housing policy in 1986-1995. Using a historical institutionalist analysis, the thesis demonstrates that a crisis of legitimacy of the welfare state in the 1980s caused the Dutch government to embark on a neoliberal path of reducing state influence in all areas of society, including housing. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers and State Secretary Enneüs Heerma, the social rental sector was reduced from a universal provision to a safety net for only lower incomes. Housing corporations were privatised and cut off from state support. Protests against the reforms were organised under the slogan “Heerma, Not Like This!”, but resistance failed to materialise in parliament, where a majority of political parties supported the reforms. This was, among other reasons, because Heerma showed no willingness to divert from his chosen path and presented the reforms as a necessity, causing legislators to fail to see alternatives.