Democracy in the Traffic Circulation Plan for the Central Area of the Hague, the Netherlands

Democracy in the Traffic Circulation Plan for the Central Area of the Hague, the Netherlands

Shinji Tsubohara

Faculty of Tourism and Community Studies, Atomi University, Japan

Available online: 
15 November 2018
| Citation



The city of Groningen, the Netherlands, introduced the Traffic Circulation Plan (Verkeerscirculatie-plan, VCP) in 1977, dividing its inner city into four sectors for cars by enforcing one-way restrictions throughout the inner city. It reduced car traffic in the inner city by half, improving the environment there, and revitalized the city centre. On the other hand, lacking opportunities for the public to participate, the process for introducing the VCP was by no means democratic in terms of participatory democracy, but democratic enough in terms of liberal democracy. In 2009, more than 30 years later, the city of The Hague introduced the Traffic Circulation Plan for the Central Area (Verkeerscirculatieplan Centrumgebied, VCPC), which was based on the sector model like the VCP. The purpose of this article is to re-examine the superiority of liberal democracy over participatory democracy, which was indicated in the case of the VCP, by studying the process for introducing the VCPC in terms of the two types of democracy and the effects of the plan. It turns out that political parties with a majority of seats in the city council took the initiative in introducing the plan while opposition against the plan, which was dominant in public participation, was mostly brushed aside. On the other hand, the plan reduced pollution in the inner city while not undermining the economy there. It can be concluded that the case of the VCPC constitutes another example indicating the superiority of liberal democracy over participatory democracy in realizing the public interest.


democracy, public participation, The Hague, the Netherlands, traffic circulation plan


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