Earlier this year, parliament decided to end the queen’s traditional role in helping to form a new cabinet after a general election. But there is confusion about what will happen now.
What will not happen next is that the queen will lead the formation of the cabinet, writes Nos television. The queen ‘might as well have a lie-in’ on Thursday, the public broadcaster suggests, because for the first time Dutch parliamentary history the head of state will no longer be involved in the process.
Normally the cabinet formation would begin the day after the election, according to a set ritual. In the afternoon the queen would receive her three most important advisers, consult party leaders and then appoint an informateur, or coalition negotiator.
‘This time parliament will have to take the initiative’, the public broadcaster writes, but there is much that remains unclear about the procedure. The informateur will be appointed after a parliamentary debate which will only take place after the installation of the new parliament, eight days after the election.
‘What will happen in the days preceding the debate is anyone’s guess. It is unlikely the leaders of possible coalition parties will sit on their hands for a week. But there are no procedures for phone calls sounding out potential partners, furtive meetings over dinner or other such contacts, let alone that the contents of the conversations would be made public.’
Apart from the presence of the queen, the budget day debates, which would normally follow Budget Day next Tuesday, may also go by the board, Nos writes. ‘It is very likely the plans will be subject to change depending on which parties will take part in the cabinet. A stable cabinet has been the most widely shared wish during the campaign but the path that should lead to it is far from clear.’
The Volkskrant writes that VVD leader Mark Rutte and Labour leader Diederik Samsom, far from sitting on their hands, have decided that although the formation is formally not under discussion at the moment, the search for an ‘informateur’ will be on in the days after the election.
The search will be conducted by the winning parties. ‘In both camps the names of possible candidates are doing the rounds’, the paper writes. ‘The VVD favours Loek Hermans, member of the Senate and former minister, and Benk Korthals (former justice and defence minister, DN). Labour has its eye on Jacques Wallage and Klaas de Vries, both old Labour hands’.
The Volkskrant also comments on the confusion caused by the absence of the queen. The paper reports that ‘tonight the runner-up will phone the winner to congratulate him. They will also make a ‘procedure agreement.’
Tomorrow all parliamentary party chairmen will meet to talk about the political situation. Parliamentary chairwoman Gerdi Verbeet announced two weeks ago she would call the parliamentary party chairmen to see whether they want to meet for talks on Thursday afternoon.
But the meeting is unlikely to happen because the big parties have already intimated they do not think Verbeet should ‘play queen, particularly when she is soon to be the ex-parliamentary chairwoman,’ the paper states.
Nevertheless, ‘once the hurdle of the appointment of an informateur has been taken, things will proceed as normal,’ the paper concludes.
The Financieele Dagblad writes that ‘no matter who wins today, the economic crisis will make its dreary presence felt throughout the next four years.’ Economic growth will be minimal at best, the paper writes, so what is needed is ‘a solid cabinet that can count on a majority in both chambers’.
‘Without that, no new far-reaching changes in the law will stand a chance. And they will be needed to get out of the crisis: the labour market, the housing market and healthcare will all have to be reformed,’ the FD writes.
Left or right, it doesn’t make a great deal of difference in the light of the crisis, the paper states. ‘This election could be the start of a sensible trade-off of hobby horses between the parties.’
In any case, voters will not be happy, the FD says, because any coalition is going to cause pain. The jigsaw that is a new cabinet will consist of many pieces, the paper predicts. ‘The results will be complex, just as in 2010.’
‘The fragmentation of the electorate is continuing. The distribution of seats between parties that want more cuts now and those that want to take it slowly is about fifty-fifty. We might be in for a long formation’, the paper concludes.