Amsterdam, the capital of the social democracy of the Netherlands, had a marked climate of tolerance at the time; for centuries, and till the present day, migrants have found their way to Amsterdam from all over the world; the city possesses several universities and art institutions; large corporations have their head offices in Amsterdam, many small companies create a flourishing market; there was a distinct gay culture, soft drugs were permitted, fashion was an adventure and social security was guaranteed as never before. For international companies, Amsterdam functioned like a testing site for new trends. Because of the squatter's movement, which was rather large in Amsterdam in the 1980s a lot of 'free' spaces were available which facilitated new music, performances and experimental living styles with groups of people. The women's movement, the anti nuclear movement, the anti-apartheid movement and solidarity movements with countries like Nicaragua, Chile, Northern Ireland and others made a rather large group of young people politically aware. The Cold War between the Unites States of America and the Soviet Union was still going on, the 'Iron Curtain' was only 1000 kilometres away.
It is important to realize that Dutch politics were characterized by the so called 'polder model' in which the achievement of consensus between a variety of political identities was the highest goal at the time. In the Netherlands there still are over 20 political parties that collaborate at all political and institutional levels. The polder model can be explained by the struggle against water that the Dutch have had to carry out to keep the land from flooding. When the water comes, everybody has to collaborate. Certain animosities are considered 'not done'. The theatre of politics is not really appreciated; the expression of different identities is therefore limited. When people radicalise, they are invited to enter into a conversation in which their feelings and arguments are listened to and possibly acted upon.note 68 Deviant opinions are valued, one may disagree, but it is not acceptable to start a fight on the road to destruction. No individuals should be criminalized as happened in many other countries' political arenas.note 69 In 1989 and 1990, the polder model was still very much in the ascendancy, which made Holland a rather 'safe' playground to explore new things as will become clear in the case study about the GHP. The polder model also includes a special approach to prevention as will become clear in the case study about the 0+Ball.