MPs prepare to filibuster on healthcare increases

The socialist party SP and the anti-immigration PVV will each request eight hours to explain their opposition to the proposed increase in the own-risk element of healthcare insurance during the debate on the subject next week.


The tactic of one individual speaking for a long period on one subject in order to delay or stop a vote is known as a filibuster. The record in the US is held by senator Strom Thurmond who spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes in 1957 against a law on citizen rights.
The increase in the own-risk element is part of the five-party austerity measures and will see it increase from €220 to €350.
Although the Netherlands has a caretaker minority government until after the September 11 election, parliament wants to debate and pass this measure next week.
Controversial
The SP and the PVV consider the subject too controversial to be voted through by a caretaker government and are determined to delay things, reports the Volkskrant.
The SP will use the time to read out complaints from the public about the hardship the rise will cause.
The PVV has not said how it will fill the time, but party leader Geert Wilders is keen to frustrate parliament and the five-party agreement.
Filibustering is allowed in the Netherlands but is rare. Parliamentary spokesman David van der Houwen could only think of one example. In 1910, an MP spoke for nine hours during a debate, he told the Volkskrant.