Rutte responds to Parliament’s censure; Cabinet Scout: “This isn’t House of Cards”
VVD leader and departing Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not for a moment consider resignation during a parliamentary debate on leaked notes from the cabinet formation process on Thursday, in which he was formally censured. Afterwards, Rutte said that he would do his "stinking best" and "work terribly hard" to earn back the trust of the Tweede Kamer and society, NU.nl reports. Former formation pathfinder Annemarie Jorritsma does not understand the commotion.
The parliamentary debate revolved around the cabinet formation, which was suddenly halted last Wednesday when pathfinder Kasja Ollongren, tasked with mapping out possibilities to form a coalition government, found out she had tested positive for coronavirus. As she rushed out carrying her notes under her arm, journalists took photos which later revealed one of the notes stating ‘position Omtzigt, function elsewhere’.
Rutte on camera denied that he discussed Omtzigt in his talks with the pathfinders Ollongren and Jorritsma, who stepped down as pathfinders after the leak. But when the notes on the party leaders' discussions with the pathfinders were released, it turned out that Rutte indeed mentioned the CDA parliamentarian. "You have to do something with Omtzigt: make him a minister," the report on the discussion with Rutte quoted him.
Rutte said he simply didn't remember the remark, but the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament didn't believe him. A motion of no confidence, filed by PVV leader Geert Wilders, just missed getting majority support, getting 72 of 150 votes. A motion of censure filed by D66 leader Sigrid Kaag and CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra was supported by a big majority in the Kamer, with only the VVD parliamentarians voting against.
After the debate, Rutte stressed that he fulfills his position as Prime Minister with "the utmost humility and modesty". He would like to serve a fourth term, but acknowledged that the cabinet formation process will be a difficult puzzle.
Former pathfinder Jorritsma is baffled by the fuss this created. According to her, there was definitely no preconceived plan to get rid of Omtzigt. "Of course I read all kinds of theories about that, but I find it very boring. This is really not House of Cards," she said, referring to the hit TV show about American politics. She simply couldn't remember the remark Rutte made about Omtzigt being made a Minister, she said. If she remembered, she would have said so. "Why would we want to keep it a secret?"