First day of Budget Debate hardly even touched the budget
During the first day of the Budget Debate in Dutch parliament, party leaders focused more on each other than on the Budget and the government's plans for next year. The looming elections played a large roll in the debate, NOS reports.
Both the VVD and PvdA stressed that the Netherlands is in a much better shape than when they took office in 2012 - the same line that was the focus of King Willem-Alexander's Budget Day speech and that of Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem at the presentation of the National Budget for next year. According to the coalition, they worked well together, despite major differences.
VVD leader Halbe Zijlstra also said that he thinks cooperation with the PVV after next year's elections is very unlikely, but he does not want to rule it out completely. A number of other party leaders attacked him on that statement. According to PvdA leader Diederik Samsom, the VVD is being unclear about the future by keeping the door open to the PVV.
As per usual, PVV leader Geert Wilders caused the biggest and most commotions with his statements. According to hi, it is time for the Netherlands to be "reconquered". "We are the Netherlands, this is our country and we are going to conquer it back", he said, according to the broadcaster. He added that hundreds of thousands of people were let into the Netherlands "without telling them that it is our country". And he lashed out at those "increasingly behaving like conquerors and profiteers". This is about the freedom of the Netherlands, and Islam does not belong here, he said.
Wilders also wants to call in the police to close all mosques in the Netherlands and confiscate Korans. He wants to retract the Dutch passports of dual-citizens who commit crimes. And he called on DENK parliamentarian Tunahan Kuzu to give up his Dutch passport because this is not his country. "The Netherlands is not your country", he said to Kuzu. "You defend (Turkish president Recep Tayyip, ed) Erdogan. It would do you well if you return your Dutch passport and go sit in Erdogan's parliament."
GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver was the only one to stand up for Kuzu in this instance. "Mister Kuzu is Dutch", he said to Wilders. "We will fight him on all strange ideas he has, but he is Dutch." Kuzu thanked Klaver for his support, but told RTL Nieuws that he is sad Klaver was the only one to say something.
Wilders also clashed with other party leaders. VVD leader dubbed Wilders' idea of a country a dictatorship. Wilders called ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers a "fake christian" and described Klaver as the Erdogan of the Low Lands.
CDA leader Sybrand Buma called the PVV's election campaign a "rotten rag that can not be allowed", that Wilders did not give his own party members say in the campaign and that his leadership of the faction is a mess. To which Wilders responded that what happens in the PVV is none of Buma's business and that Buma should not be "so little as to come with such interruptions".
Several parties distanced themselves from Prime Minister Mark Rutte's statements that Turkish-Dutch who cause problems should leave. Buma stated that Rutte's main goal has become sensationalism.
The D66 called for more optimism and better cooperation between parties. "Do not act like it is all doom and gloom here. Like it is a big mess here", party leader Alexander Pechtold said. GroenLinks leader Klaver expressed concerns about increasing inequality in the Netherlands. "This government stayed together, but society is divided and has a tooth ache."
The Budget Debate continues today, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte responding to what the party leaders had to say on Wednesday.