Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

Politics of Hard Choices - Collegereeks 2012

Governments must make hard choices when confronted with economic misery. Managing the economy is one of their fundamental tasks, which becomes more pronounced in times of crisis. The Netherlands, as all the governments of the European Union member states, must balance national and European interests and competencies when dealing with such economic crises.


Government Responses to Economic Crises

In a historical perspective, economic crises occur in a long term wave pattern in which countries in Europe go up and down together. But these countries have their own national context, interests, and policy responses. Hence, even for this domain of strong European integration we witness controversy over definitions and solutions of economic problems. At times of crisis, governments take more control; they are given ‘special powers’. Democratic decision making is then often considered inefficient and legitimacy is traded-off with the pressure to present quick solutions.

In collaboration with the Center for Innovation The Hague, the Montesquieu Institute organizes this lecture series that discusses how governments deal with the tensions inherent to hard choices when facing an economic crisis, what varying historical traditions in economic crisis management exist, how countries ‘learn’ from one another and from past experiences, and how political institutions with their separated or overlapping powers play a part in managing an economic crisis.

Does the consensus model of the Netherlands hold in this process? How much is it under pressure? Does the Dutch parliament play a central role in balancing economic interests and values? Does it strengthen the legitimacy of hard choices? How is this taking place compared to other parliaments in Europe? How do countries balance efficiency in policy making with consultation of stake holders and the need for legitimacy of decisions? In what ways do national styles mix with the strong and reinforced powers of the EU in addressing economic problems? Can we be optimistic or rather pessimistic about the way in which governments learn lessons and how they try to act in concert?



Registration deadline

28 October*

Course period

7 November - 19 December 2012

Lectures (students and guests): Wednesdays from 18:30 - 20:30

Work group sessions (only students): Mondays (to be defined with the group)


Lectures: 7, 14, 21 and 28 November, 12 and 19 December

Work group sessions: 3, 17 December


Campus The Hague

*This date might change if the maximum capacity of the room is reached earlier.



7 Nov

Politics of attention and hard choices

Arco Timmermans

Research Director of the Montesquieu Institute

14 Nov

The history of choices in the Eurozone

Roel Janssen

Journalist on Economic and financial issues

21 Nov

Who sets the stage for hard choices: EU and the Netherlands

Frans van Nispen tot Pannerden

Associate Professor of Public Administration at Erasmus University Rotterdam

28 Nov

Hard choices and stakeholders in the policy-making consensus in the Netherlands

Corina Hendriks

Editor of the political-scientific journal Idee (D66)

12 Dec

A prominent close neighbour: comparing the Netherlands with Germany

Hanco Jurgens

Researcher at the Institute for German Studies, University of Amsterdam

19 Dec

Lesson-drawing and the art of making budget cuts

Corina den Broeder

Head of the Office of Strategic Analysis of the National Budget Control,

Directorate General on National Budget of the Dutch Ministry of Finance

Dick Kabel

Head of Fiscal Policy, Directorate General on National Budget

of the Dutch Ministry of Finance



This course is open to students from all Dutch universities, as well as to professionals interested in the topic.


Students may receive ECTS credits or a certificate.

To receive ECTS

This lecture series may be taken as an elective course by students in their third bachelor year, it is taught at the 300 level. Students in their second bachelor year will also be considered in case they intend to follow a 300 level course.

Following this course as an elective is pending approval of the academic program in which you are enrolled. Please note that it is your responsibility to obtain this approval and communicate it to us 1 week before the course starts at latest. To receive credits (5 ECTS) you must fulfill the following 3 requirements: attend at least 5 lectures and both work group sessions, as well as submit a quality term paper. Note that the work group sessions will be specially organized to promote individual discussion and feedback on the term paper.

To receive a certificate

Students who don’t want to receive ECTS are also welcome. In this case, they can obtain a certificate from the Montesquieu Institute, provided that they attend at least 5 lectures. They are neither required to attend the work group sessions nor to write a term paper.

Registration: the registration period has expired.

Fees: free


They may obtain a certificate from the Montesquieu Institute, condition is that at least 5 lectures are attended. They are neither required to attend the work group sessions nor to write a term paper.

Registration: the registration period has expired.

Fees: 200 Euros


More information

For more information, please send an email to