SP candidate Nicole van Gemert demonstrates against Brussels' marketing of public property

25 May 2009

SP candidate Nicole van Gemert demonstrates against Brussels' marketing of public property

Candidate Nicole van Gemert led a demonstration last Saturday which offered a vivid representation of the placing in the hands of the market of public services and public property under pressure from Brussels. In Utrecht, shoppers were confronted by a mysterious and besuited man who claimed to have bought part of the public footpath on the Oudegracht ('Old Canal'), in the heart of the city's picturesque centre. The 'suit' said that he had bought the section of the path, which he had cordoned off with ribbons, through Brussels estate agents (realtors). “Europe says that all public property must be sold off, because the market is the solution to all problems," the man called out as he carried a 'Sold' sign around his property. Passers-by took the trouble to go around the cordoned-off section, as the new owner let them know that they would soon have to pay to cross it. "I can do whatever I like, because what was public property is now my property," the proud new owner of a bit of the Oudegracht told them.

"H€y you, pay up first!"

"Health care, public transport, and now energy suppliers too must all be subject to market forces and therefore sold off, because the European Union wants more of the market in the public sector," Nicole van Gemert explained. "According to neoliberal thinking the market solves all problems."

SP candidate Nicole van GemertThe banking crisis has shown, however, that a market without regulation does not work. The free market is no solution to the problem, but bears part of the responsibility for the crisis. Not only that, but there are countless examples from the health care and public transport sectors where market forces have been introduced and the quality of provision has hugely deteriorated. Yet worshippers of the market continue to call for 'more market', as we can see from the threatened sell-off of publicly-owned energy suppliers Nuon and Essen. The SP sees things differently and we have already presented our alternative approach to the crisis: less Brussels, preservation of jobs and help for people experiencing difficulties as a result of the crisis, restoration of surveillance of financial institutions and service providers, and coordination of the economic policies of the member states with a view to avoiding hindering each others' attempts to deal with the problems. In short, a recognition of the fact that neoliberalism has failed, and a creative response to that failure.

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