Concept

Polder model

Résumé
The polder model (poldermodel) is a method of consensus decision-making, based on the Dutch version of consensus-based economic and social policymaking in the 1980s and 1990s. It gets its name from the Dutch word (polder) for tracts of land enclosed by dikes. The polder model has been described as "a pragmatic recognition of pluriformity" and "cooperation despite differences". It is thought that the Dutch politician Ina Brouwer was the first to use the term poldermodel, in her 1990 article Het socialisme als poldermodel? ("Socialism as Polder Model?"), although it is uncertain whether she coined the term or simply seems to have been the first to write it down. The Dutch polder model is characterised by the tripartist cooperation between employers' organisations such as VNO-NCW, labour unions such as the Federation Dutch Labour Movement, and the government. These talks are embodied in the Social-Economic Council (Sociaal-Economische Raad, SER). The SER serves as the central forum to discuss labour issues and has a long tradition of consensus, often defusing labour conflicts and avoiding strike actions. Similar models are in use in Finland, namely the Comprehensive Income Policy Agreement and universal validity of collective labour agreements. The current Dutch polder model is said to have begun with the Wassenaar Agreement of 1982, when unions, employers, and government decided on a comprehensive plan to revitalise the economy involving shorter working times and less pay on the one hand, and more employment on the other. This polder model, combined with a neoliberal economic policy of privatisation and budget cuts, has been held to be responsible for the Dutch economic miracle of the late 1990s. An important role in this process was played by the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB), founded by Jan Tinbergen. The CPB's policy advice since 1976, in particular with the Den Hartog and Tjan model, in favour of wage restraint, was an important argument, supportive for government and employers, that the unions could not easily counter.
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