Polder Model

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The polder model is a term with uncertain origin that was first used to describe the internationally acclaimed Dutch version of consensus policy in economics, specifically in the 1980s and 1990s. However, the term was quickly adopted for a much wider meaning, for similar cases of consensus decision-making, which are supposedly typically Dutch. It is described with phrases like 'a pragmatic recognition of pluriformity' and 'cooperation despite differences'.

A popular explanation of both the term and the reason this decision-making style works so well in the Netherlands is the unique situation created by the fact that a large part of the country consists of polders below sea-level. Ever since the Middle Ages, competing or even warring cities in the same polder were forced to set aside their differences to maintain the polders, lest they both be flooded.

Socio-economic polder model

The Dutch polder model is characterised by the tri-partite cooperation between employers' organizations 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 (, 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 strikes. Similar models are in use in Finland, namely Comprehensive Income Policy Agreement and universal validity of collective labour agreements.

The current polder model is said to have begun...
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