Who were—in culture, politics and crime—the eleven most talked about Dutch persons this year, not only here in Holland but also in Latin America and Africa?
[media:factfile]1. Geert Wilders
The ranting voice of the common Dutchman made headlines through much of the year. In June’s elections, his PVV party won 24 seats, becoming the country’s third largest. Following months of tense coalition talks, his party even got to rule the country without joining the government. Then there was Wilders’ trial for insulting Muslims, inciting hatred and discrimination. The court soap featured a largely silent Wilders, stumbling judges and a fateful dinner. The fun was only spoiled by his own MPs, some of whom, it turned out, were aggressive troublemakers, crooks and suspected porn lords.
2. Joran van der Sloot
Following a calm 2009, in 2010 Joran again basked in the limelight. On television, he admitted that Natalee Holloway had fallen to her death after taking cocaine. After a woman had been found murdered in his hotel room in Peru, he was arrested in Chile. TIME Magazine declared the arrest the biggest crime event of the year. Extradited to Peru, he confessed but soon after withdrew his statement. In the US he was accused of blackmailing Natalee’s mother. Now he is awaiting trial in Peru’s notorious Castro Castro prison.
3. Tanja Nijmeijer
In 2010 Holland’s most famous guerrilla launched a formidable media offensive. In September she was back in the news when she was thought to have been killed in an army raid on a FARC rebel camp in Colombia’s jungle. Dead or alive, she was brought to life in video footage published by RNW. Whether documentary or propaganda, the images reveal that she misses Dutch cheese and bikes, becomes teary on hearing the national anthem, likes to sing Top 2000 songs and will stay with the FARC till she dies.
4. Nigel de Jong
The year was largely dominated by the World Cup in South Africa, where Holland reached the final. The team owed much of their success to Bert van Marwijk’s tactical interventions, Wesley Sneijder’s goals and Arjen Robben’s fast forward runs. Once all the orange dust had settled, though, it was Nigel de Jong who stood out. Feared as a ruthless midfielder, he lived up to his reputation by striking Spain’s Xabi Alsono on the chest with a spectacular flying karate kick.
5. Mark Rutte
Locked in a power struggle for the party leadership only three years ago, he is now the country’s first liberal PM since 1918. After a fraught formation, he forged a coalition with the decimated Christian Democrats, backed by the booming PVV. While his cabinet is trusted by few, the PM’s popularity continues undiminished.
6. Laura Dekker
After a long legal battle, in August the teenage sailor finally set sail for her solo trip around the world. Is she a pigheaded teenager with reckless parents, or an independent, intelligent youth able to steer her own course? Whatever the case, she succeeded in crossing the Atlantic. From her blog we learned that, on her long journey, she often listens to music or watches the sea and sometimes is hit by lulls and boredom.
Rather against his own wishes, the nine-year-old boy from Tilburg made world headlines when it emerged he was the only survivor of May’s plane crash near the Libyan capital Tripoli. All the other 103 people on board the flight died in the accident. Dutch and foreign media proceeded to gatecrash ‘the Tripoli miracle’, forcing the orphan into non-consensual interviews and violating the privacy of his hospital sickbed.
8. Victor Muller
Here Victor Muller was known as a flamboyant multi-millionaire and the maker of the handcrafted Spyker sports cars. In February, however, he became famous the world over after taking over Swedish car maker Saab from the ailing US company General Motors. The world was astonished, and soon there were rumours of Russian financiers of dubious reputation with criminal connections. In Sweden, however, Muller’s reputation as the saviour of thousands of jobs remains unshaken.
9. Nicolien Sauerbreij
At the Vancouver Winter Games, she did what few had thought possible: winning gold for snowboarding—quite a feat for someone from a flat country, with lots of rain but little snow. In addition, it was Holland’s 100th Olympic medal. It was therefore entirely fitting that she was proclaimed sportswoman of the year.
10. The Bavaria Babes
During the first week of the World Cup, the Bavaria Babes aroused more passions than the Dutch team. Clad in orange skirts, the 36 lasses were repeatedly caught on camera flaunting their delightful wares - a bold example of ambush marketing on the part of the brewer Bavaria. Alas, the stunt breached FIFA regulations and two babes were thrown in gaol for undertaking commercial activities in a football stadium. Feelings were running high and even the government intervened. In the end, Bavaria and FIFA reached a settlement, with the beer brewer’s mission - as much media attention as possible - amply accomplished.
11. Armin van Buuren
In terms of Google hits, DJ and producer Armin van Buuren is the country’s number one. The prestigious International Dance Music Awards in Miami declared the high priest of trance the world’s best DJ. And his label, Armada Music, was chosen the best record company. The authoritative British magazine DJ Mag also declared Van Buuren the world’s best, for the fourth year in a row.
Do you agree with this list? Or would you like to nominate other candidates? Why not respond below?