Opposition happy with King's speech, dissatisfied with budget plans
The opposition parties had mixed reactions to the King's Budged Day speech and the Rutte III government's plans for next year. Most parties appreciated the tone of the King's speech, and heavily criticized the budget in terms of content, ANP reports.
PVV leader Geert Wilders thinks that the government is "still letting down our own people." Billions of euros are going to countries in southern Europe, while many people in the Netherlands are struggling, he said. "The most shocking thing is that the ordinary Dutchman who is struggling because of the crisis, is not even mentioned in the speech from the throne," Wilders said. He also thinks that the government is phasing out its coronavirus support packages for entrepreneurs too quickly. He understands that subsidies can't last forever, he said, but they should be phased out more slowly to ensure entrepreneurs have more time to get money together to pay their deferred taxes and debts.
Wilders also said that the government promised a small improvement in purchasing power, but many people will suffer financially because costs are going up. The PVV wants to reduce rents and energy bills, and scrap the low VAT rate altogether. The Prime Minister has been promising purchasing power improvements for ten years, "but he doesn't give anything at all," Wilders said.
GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver lauded the solidarity the King spoke about in his speech, but added that this solidarity should also be reflected in the budget. "It was great how the King supported our country, with his words about resilience and solidarity in these times of crisis. As far as we are concerned, the same solidarity should be reflected in the budget: not giving billions to large companies, but better rewarding healthcare workers and lowering rents."
Klaver also wants more attention for the climate crisis, which didn't disappear because a pandemic happened. "The King also spoke a lot about young people and the new generation. If the government means those words, then maximum efforts must now be made to tackle the climate crisis. We cannot wait any longer for a decisive climate policy," the Green party leader said.
The Rutte III coalition of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie does not have a majority in either the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, or the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, according to the news wire. If they want to get anything passed, they need the support of at least some opposition parties. The PVV and GroenLinks are two of the largest opposition parties.
According to SP leader Lilian Marijnissen, there were "a lot of beautiful, justified words" about the public sector, which King Willem-Alexander said belongs to "all of us". But words did not turn into deeds. "I find it all the more disappointing that the cabinet is investing far too little in this as far as I am concerned," she said. Healthcare workers "have to make do with a round of applause and a once-off bonus", but no structural salary increase. The SP will again present a proposal to do something about that later this week, Marijnissen said.
The SP leader called it "very sensible that this cabinet is not making the mistakes that previous cabinets made, making budget cuts instead of investing in a crisis". But the investments should be better chosen, she said. "To the left or the right, the billions still go to the companies, this is really not possible at this point in time."
PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher called the government's plans for next year completely insufficient. "The budget is really not good yet," he said. He wants more money for work, housing, healthcare and education. Asscher is also worried about a second coronavirus wave. That the King warned about a severe economic setback "is justified because the number of infections is getting completely out of hand," he said. He would have liked to see how the government plans to further contain infections.
SGP leader Kees van der Staaij called for a bit more realism about Dutch finances in this crisis, with the national debt rising so quickly. "That puts a heavy burden on the future, especially on the young people who are now looking for a job and a home. The money sluice has been opened, but it would be good if the cabinet clarified when it will be closed again," he said. He called it good that the government is helping financially. "But I want that we can continue to do that in the future. So we really have to go back to the old financial normal. In other words: cabinet, don't make a virtue of necessity!"
The coalition parties, on the other hand, were very impressed with the King's speech and the government's budget plans. VVD faction leader Klaas Dijkhoff told NOS that the King's Speech offered an optimistic view of the future. "Now you can spend a lot of money to hold back the real crisis that is coming."
ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers acknowledged that the money spent now saddles the next generations with debts, but added: "It is about preserving jogs, about investing in society."