Take action or step down, opposition tells Cabinet in debate on election results
The government must do more to solve major problems in the Netherlands, the opposition parties believe. They fiercely criticized the government for the administrative chaos caused by the nitrogen crisis, among other things. “Fix it, or get out,” said BBB leader Caroline van der Plas. PVV leader Geert Wilders thinks the Cabinet should “get off the field.” According to Jesse Klaver, the Cabinet will have to leave if it does not start governing soon.
Opposition leader followed opposition leader in the debate on the results of the provincial elections, which the BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB) won very decidedly. The faction leaders of the coalition parties will only speak later, and then Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) and the three Deputy Prime Ministers (of D66, CDA, and ChristenUnie) will respond. Faction leaders of the coalition parties barely interrupted their opposition counterparts. And the opposition leaders seemed to reserve their interruptions for the coalition parties.
GroenLinks demands clarity from the Cabinet and a Cabient that makes decisions, said party leader Jesse Klaver as the first speaker in the debate. “The time for pushing away, pushing forward, and laughing off is behind us,” said Klaver. “Govern, or leave.” According to him, the Cabinet is trying to gloss over what is broken - and the utterly unclear message from the Cabinet on Friday is an excellent example of this. Will the nitrogen approach be accelerated or paused? Is 2030 still the year nitrogen emissions must be halved? And can D66 leader Sigrid Kaag and CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra live with that decision or not?
In the recent elections, the Dutch have “drawn a line in the sand” out of dissatisfaction with the Cabinet, BBB leader Van Der Plas said. “It is not just about nitrogen,” she said. But “for voters, nitrogen symbolizes everything that is going wrong in our country.” She listed all the other stalled issues. “Groningen, benefits scandal, children paced out of home, the flood disaster in the south of the Netherlands.” She also mentioned the waiting lists in healthcare, the crisis in asylum shelter, disappearing bus lines, families in poverty, desperate farmers and fishermen, lonely elderly, and healthcare workers struggling with Long Covid. “There’s too much to mention.”
According to Van der Plas, a long time ago, the famous cabaret duo Van Kooten and De Bie predicted the “aggressive dissatisfaction that is now manifesting itself. “Fix it, or get out.”
According to PVV leader Wilders, the Cabinet only worsens the country’s problems. The coalition must step down today and acknowledge the “deep red card” it received with the coalition’s election losses. “Then you have to get off the field.” According to Wilders, the Rutte IV Cabinet’s only goal is to stay in power.
The opposition parties, most of whom consulted with each other before the debate, believe that the Cabinet must take the voter’s signal seriously. Confidence in politics is low, and the Cabinet has done too little. According to PvdD leader Esther Ouwehand and SP leader Lilian Marijnissen, the coalition is far too preoccupied with saving its “political skin.” Solving actual problems falls by the wayside, the politicians said. Parties from left to right continued to press for solutions, particularly to break the nitrogen deadlock.
They also targeted the mutual relationships within the coalition. Where the CDA cannot live with the nitrogen paragraph in the coalition agreement, the D66 says to “keep the course.” According to the opposition parties, the fact that the coalition will only start negotiating the nitrogen agreements again when there is more clarity about the new city councils in the provinces is leading to great uncertainty. The coalition is only postponing the Cabinet crisis by a few weeks, PvdA leader Attje Kuiken said.
Volt leader Laurens Dassen thinks the CDA - the big loser in the provincial elections - should leave the coalition and be replaced by GroenLinks and PvdA. That would bring the standstill in the country, which has lasted for months, to an end, he said. The deadlock in policy is increasing polarization, Dassen said. The Cabinet must provide clarity, especially in the nitrogen approach.
“Will the coalition agreement be broken up, and if so, when? Sthop shifting responsibilities to Brussels or the provinces. Take responsibility,” Dassen said to the Cabinet. “Look at the smoldering debris” and dare to admit “that the choice for the CDA” in the longest coalition negotiations ever “was not a good one.”
Reporting by ANP