Politicians react to Defense Minister's resignation

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons). (Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons))

Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (VVD) resigned on Tuesday evening, after hours of debate in the Tweede Kamer about the Dutch Safety Board's report on the deaths of two Dutch soldiers deployed to a UN mission in Mali last year. Henry Hoving and Kevin Roggeveld were killed when a mortar grenade exploded while still in the firing tube during training. The Safety Board concluded that Defense puts the interest of participating in international missions above the safety of Dutch soldiers.

Prime Minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte said that he respects Hennis' decision to resign, NU.nl reports. "I worked very well with her during this cabinet period", he said. "I saw with my own eyes with how much passion and involvement she works."

ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers said that he has "a lot of respect" for how Hennis defended herself in the Kamer on Tuesday and took her responsibility. He refused to answer a question about whether Hennis could still become a Minister in the new government of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie. The parties are currently in the final stages of the formation process. 

According to SGP leader Kees van der Staaij, Hennis first focused solely on defending herself, but then acknowledged that the situation was unacceptable and should have political consequences.

PVV leader Geert Wilders called Hennis' resignation "unavoidable". She made the only decision available to her, he said, according to NU.nl. "Took her responsibility." He doesn't think that Hennis can be a Minister in the new government. That would be very strange, according to Wilders. 

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver said that he found Hennis' defense "unconvincing", according to newspaper AD. According to him, she accepted the recommendations of the Safety Board's report, but not the conclusions. He added that she "took her responsibility" by resigning. Klaver too felt that discussing Hennis' future in the next cabinet is "not in order tonight".

"The resignation is a good decision, but I hope she will not be back in a next cabinet", FvD leader Thierry Baudet said. "That she steps down first, and then after the weekend again stands happily on the platform. That is not the intention. What happened speaks for itself. Soldiers are sent on mission with inadequate equipment. That can't be."

50Plus leader Henk Krol called it "very cool" that Hennis wanted to explain herself in the Tweede Kamer. "I respect that."

"It is a brave decision", VVD parliamentarian Han ten Broeke said to AD. 

With Hennis' resignation, the VVD lost five Ministers and State Secretaries in the Rutte II cabinet. Frans Weekers (State Secretary of Finance), Ivo Opstelten and Fred Teeven (Minister and State Secretary of Security and Justice), and Ard van der Steur (also Security and Justice) all went before her. 

Hennis' departure also comes as blow to the VVD, according to NU.nl. She was seen as a potential successor for VVD leader and Prime Minister Mark Rutte. She was also a favorite to be the next faction leader for her party in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of parliament.