MPs leaning towards supporting curfew, but only if it starts later
With outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte just about to speak in a parliamentary debate on the stricter measures the cabinet is implementing in the fight against the coronavirus, the parliamentarians seem to be leaning towards supporting a curfew - but one that starts later than the planned 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.
PVV leader Geert Wilders is the most outspoken opponent to a curfew in parliament on Thursday. According to him, the Netherlands already has one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe and now "Prime Minister Rutte adds another thousand scoops". He called a curfew an inappropriate measure and a sign of impotence and panic. "We are imprisoned at home on the orders of Mark Rutte."
D66 leader Rob Jetten, who was against the curfew last week, on Thursday said that his party was "struggling with it". He called a curfew the most far-reaching measure considered so far in the handling of the pandemic. There is more reason for concern than last week, Jetten said, pointing to experts' warnings about the B117 variant of the virus spreading in the Netherlands. But he does not yet know whether that is reason enough to implement a curfew, he said.
"My party does not think it is an easy choice," Jetten said. He asked the cabinet whether they won't consider a "night clock" with a curfew starting at 10:00 p.m.
Left-wing opposition parties GroenLinks and SP aren't willing to support a curfew that starts at 8:30 p.m., but seems willing to negotiate, asking whether anything can be done about the exact times. GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver also called for more attention to the psychological consequences of the measure. And SP leader Lilian Marijnissen wants more pressure on companies to allow their employees to work from home.
PvdA leader Lilianne Ploumen wanted nothing to do with the "political barter" about half an hour later or earlier, she said. "It's not about that. I want a substantive debate about curfew."
Coalition parties VVD, CDA, and ChristenUnie said they will support the curfew, but added that they understand people's concerns. They believe that everything should be done to prevent the further spread of the virus.
With VVD, CDA and ChristenUnie, the curfew already has the support of 56 out of 150 MPs. If the D66 votes with the coalition, exactly half of the Tweede Kamer will support the curfew, meaning it needs only one more vote to be implemented. As GroenLinks and SP, each with 14 seats in parliament, seem willing to negotiate, it seems likely that the cabinet will get majority support if it is willing to compromise a bit on exactly what time curfew will start.