The Dutch National Debating Championships (or NK for short) is the calling card and annual highlight of the Dutch debating community. It is the most attractive event for new members, it is the best prize for competitive debaters, and it is the tournament that people who have retired for years want to do again. I was really looking forward to the NK 2020 in Utrecht. I saw that Jelte Schievels and the organizing committee were creating something beautiful. There was a nice website, good promotion, and low registration fees. Unfortunately, the NK was eventually forced to move online to 2021 due to the corona crisis. How was this and did the organization manage to guarantee the survival of our most beautiful event?
From 2013-2018, I attended six NKs:
I had actually stopped debating in 2018 when the NK was at its organizational peak. Only then both Jelte and chief adjudicator Lotte Claassen asked me to come and speak. I am not the most difficult and immediately started looking for a partner. Since 2020, I am a participant in Route66, the personal development program of D66. A co-participant (Annerixt Pijlman, founder of Presenteren in Connection) had indicated that she liked to practice debating. #TeamKaag was soon born.
Annerixt did not have to pay any registration fee for her first tournament. We were also sent detailed instructions on how to use Discord, Zoom and on British Parliamentary (BP) debating ahead of time. Chief adjudicator Franka Boender opened the day with a half-hour introduction to BP. There were also various online events for beginners in advance, which we did not participate in due to time constraints. I was very pleased to see how much the organization committee has gone out of its way to welcome beginners. I debated while standing from my home in Tilburg while Annerixt participated from a holiday home in Schiermonnikoog.
The first motion was “This House would offer people living in the Randstad a financial incentive to move to a shrinking region (‘krimpregio’)”. We were the closing opposition. As a whip speaker, Annerixt gave a speech about the rich Lennart and the less energetic Gijs from Amsterdam, and how they both wanted to stay there, but about how Gijs eventually moves to a place where he doesn’t know anyone because he was offered a bag of money. With her first speech, she defeated three speakers with EUDC breaks, namely Daan Spackler, Fabian Beitsma, and Mike Weltevrede. I have written an analysis of the motion here.
Motions about the climate, the independence of the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom, and the rise of private investors followed. The motions seemed more accessible to me than I’ve seen them at NKs in recent years, although Annerixt indicated that they could be more accessible. I did find that there was an unnecessary amount of English terminology and abbreviations used during the day. “CO’s whip can make a better comparison” doesn’t do much for someone who has never debated before.
There were no technical problems and there was a nice atmosphere. We were the closing opposition in the Pro-Am final, which was about the motion “This House would give the Dutch Tax Authorities the power to make favourable agreements with companies about their tax position in the Netherlands”. The Pro-Am final is a separate final for teams with at least one beginner. Annerixt closed the debate as an accomplished debater; by explaining the role of the Dutch Tax Authorities as an implementing organization and why #TeamKaag did not consider this feasible or desirable.
During the day and in the Pro-Am final we were able to see how many new debaters received a nice debate experience despite the Corona situation. Roel Becker and Floris Holstege eventually won the event, with Roel also being named best speaker and Annerixt best beginner! #TeamKaag turned out not only to have a future in politics and also took home the Pro-Am cup.
The chief adjudication team can also be proud of the quality delivered. There were good motions and I heard a logical call five times within the time limit allocated. As a personal highlight, I received a cake from the Debatbond to celebrate the 12th anniversary because I was the shared 11th best speaker. All in all, it was a day to remember. Annerixt also really wants to participate in a physical debate tournament and found it both fun and educational. For this, of course, Dutch tournaments have to be organized! It’s nice to see that the debate community has still come together online in this way and I’m sure that we can continue to enjoy beautiful NKs in the coming years.
This House would offer people living in the Randstad a financial incentive to move to a shrinking region (‘krimpregio’).NK 2021 – Round 1
A nice accessible motion to start the NK with. The dynamics between shrinking regions and the Randstad are something that many people can imagine and a lot of depth is possible here. In this article, I explain which arguments are the most important in this debate for both sides of the motion.