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.
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA)

Kroeze, D.B.R, & Keulen, S.J. (2020). “’More exciting than Watergate, more real than Dynasty’: Transparency’s rise: the Dutch RSV-enquiry and the context of the 1980s”. In History of Transparency in Politics and Society (pp. 137–152). Retrieved from