’More exciting than Watergate, more real than dynasty’: Transparency’s rise: the Dutch RSV-enquiry and the context of the 1980s

DBR (Ronald) Kroeze, Sjoerd Keulen

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

Abstract

This chapter analyses the parliamentary inquiry into the heavily state-supported Dutch shipbuilding conglomerate RijnscheldeVerolme (RSV) that went into bankruptcy in 1983. The RSV-case was, first and foremost, about opening up a process of hidden politics and decision-making and, secondly, a form of communication. The RSV-inquiry, and its outcomes, were also supportive to a structural move towards more transparency in general, in budgeting policy and the monitoring of budgeting in particular, as new budgeting rules were adopted by Dutch Parliament. The RSV-inquiry contributed to two other transformations as well. The opening-up of political decision-making during the inquiry revealed too many incapabilities regarding government officials in executing an efficient industrial policy. As an example of openness about financial mismanagement the RSV-inquiry contributed to a policy reform based on privatisation and termination of state aid. The case shows that transparency’s emergence was not only a democratic reflex, but also part of neoliberal and new public management reforms in the 1980s. The final transformation to which RSV had an undeniable contribution was that opening-up of the “clumsiness” and the lack of responsibility of involved political and business elites supported growing distrust about the workings of democratic politics. In relation to this, the RSV-case is an example that highlights the transformation of representative democracy into a “transparency democracy”: a form of democracy that combines more political openness with more scepticism and distrust.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistory of Transparency in Politics and Society
EditorsI Engels, F Monier
Place of PublicationGöttingen
Pages137-153
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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