Day One Budget Discussion
Wednesday was the first of two days Budget Discussion in the House.
The budget discussion (algemene politieke beschouwingen) in the House is always an important matter. The plans of the government how to financially run the country, are discussed on this first day, by the coalition partners on one side and the opposition on the other side. This year the discussions have an extra value since the coalition partners have no majority in the Senate. By exchanging some plans of the budget with some plans of opposition parties, a majority in the Senate can be created and laws will not be stopped by the Senate.
Unpleasant Start of the Budget Discussion
As the largest opposition party, it was the PVV who could speak first. Geert Wilder, the party leader, started by saying that he didn’t need the assigned thirty minutes, because what he had to say could be done in a few minutes.
"The Prime Minister has broken all of his election promises and comes with unworldly solutions." He continued by citing angry citizens who commented at the VVD website. At the end of his speech he introduced a new word, ‘Rutte-crisis’. “Netherlands are in a Rutte-crisis. The people don’t trust the government anymore.”
Wilders brought with him a package with one thousand signatures of people who are against this government. This is only a part of the one hundred twenty thousand signatures he received online. He wants to hand those signatures over to the Prime Minister.
The atmosphere in the House changes when Pechtold of D66 asks Wilders if he wants to distantiate himself of the flags, of the Dutch fascistic party during WOII (NSB), which were present during the march which Wilders organized last Saturday in Amsterdam and also of the typical Hitler greetings which were done during the march. Pechtold also wanted to know from Wilders what his plans are about cooperation with the fascistic French and Belgian parties ‘Front National’ and ‘Vlaams Blok’.
Wilders got angry by these questions and started to talk very impolite to Pechtold, “What a pathetic, measly and hypocritical little man you are.”
An attempt by Arie Slob of ChristenUnie to keep the discussion polite, results in the same lousy remarks to him by Wilders.
When Wilders announces to submit a motion of no confidence and makes an end to his speech, Buma makes a remarks to Wilders. “You leave nothing but an empty plain where people are fighting.” To this remark Wilders has no answer.
Voting on motion Wilders
Although it is very unusual to submit a motion in the first speeking term, Wilders does it.
It is decided that the voting will take place immediately. Only the SP asks for a little time to discuss what to do. The motion is agreed by SP, PVV and PvdD. The rest of the House votes against the motion.
Roemer says that it is certainly not his style to submit a motion at this moment in the discussion but that the motion was there and that his party wants to have new elections. So they agreed on the motion.
Voting in favor of this motion at this stage of the debate, right at the beginning, shows that those parties (SP, PVV and PvdD) are not willing to take part in the Budget Discussions and it shows a lack of respect toward government and in fact to the House. During the discussions, the other parties showed to those three parties that talking to them was not interesting and during their speeches were hardly any interruptions.
Halbe Zijlstra was the first to speak. He held a good speech, backed up the government and kept the door open to the opposition parties who want to negotiate.
Diederik Samsom was interrupted a lot throughout his speech. Especially Sybrand Buma of CDA asked Samsom a couple of things like about the high tax pressure in the Netherlands. The detailed knowledge of Samsom made it difficult for Buma to break through the defense of the PvdA leader. At a certain moment he got so frustrated that he angry walked back to his seat while saying, “well then solve everything by yourself.” Upon hearing this Samsom learned his lesson and repeated a couple of times that he is open for any alternatives.
Buma was not the only who thought that Samsom was not giving in an inch. Arie Slob of ChristenUnie had evidently the same feeling as Buma.
Zijlstra came to the microphone to help his coalition partner. He clearly pointed out that CDA can be angry but that they also don’t show much willingness to talk and negotiate.
Alexander Pechtold, in the first part of the discussions ungracefully attacked, had a good day for the rest of it. He showed willingness to negotiate. Although Samsom couldn’t give him what he wanted exactly, there seems to be negotiations possible with D66.
The remainig group leaders all held their speeches, but this was all not very exciting. A disadvantage of the last speakers is always that there is less attention of all the attendants. Kees van der Staaij, playfully got around that. He started his speech very entertaining with a funny story where he was taking all the group leaders on an excursion. He so got all the attention of the House members and government members and could in this friendly atmosphere continue with the things he had to say.
To have a majority in the Senate one needs to have 38 seats in favor for a law. Since PvdA and VVD have only 30 seats by themselves, they need support form other parties in the Senate. CDA has 11 seats, D66 has 5 seats, GroenLinks has 5 seats, ChristenUnie 2 and SGP 1.