With a friend like Wilders the cabinet needs some enemies in the senate

Former VVD parliamentary chairman Frans Weisglas thinks failing to win a majority in the senate could even be good for the government, he writes in an article in the Volkskrant.

VVD senator Heleen Dupuis would ‘not be worried’ if the cabinet were to fail to win a senate majority on March 2. She would ‘not mind at all if the government had to compromise on some of the legislation it is proposing’.
I agree with her. It would be salutary for both parliament and politics if the cabinet and its silent partner PVV did not win a majority. The VVD – CDA coalition would become a real minority cabinet which would then be able to rid itself of its PVV incubus. The final approval of legislation would be based on negotiation and proper debate with the opposition parties in the senate.
Recently the cabinet had to make concessions in parliament in order to gain support for the decision to send a police mission to Afghanistan. If the cabinet were to fail to get the majority of seats, that is the way it would have to be in future. The cabinet would have to show flexibility and accept that it will not always get its way. The opposition should be equally willing to compromise and not be out to trip up the cabinet at every opportunity.
Another advantage would be that the cabinet would have to take the parliamentary opposition into account. If the cabinet continues to seek support from the PVV first and foremost it will have trouble gaining a majority vote in the senate. A senate loss would mean a strengthening of the dualism in both houses of parliament, and that would be a good thing for democracy.
An added advantage is that the PVV stranglehold on the cabinet would be loosened considerably. The support of Wilders in parliament would be worth less if a piece of legislation would then have to be approved by the opposition parties in the senate. It could even have an adverse effect.
The position of the PVV would become less prominent. We have seen over the last three months how disproportionate its influence has been. The party has put its stamp on a large number of government accord proposals and is now holding the coalition to ransom. Many proposals have to be approved by the PVV before the cabinet can go ahead.
And even then Geert Wilders manages to frustrate ‘his friends’. The police mission in Afghanistan was not only rejected but labelled ‘the worst proposal’ the cabinet could have come up with. He is telling minister Opstelten, who is proposing safety measures almost on a daily basis, that he is not doing enough to fight crime. He is constantly embarrassing foreign minister Rosenthal abroad. Lately he has been complaining that Rutte and Verhagen do too little campaigning.
If the cabinet fails to get a majority in the senate the PVV will almost certainly not pipe down but its opinions would become less relevant, something I would applaud because it will sideline a party which systematically seeks to stigmatise an entire group in our society. It would also benefit dualism and the position and credibility of politics.
So, no, it would not be a disaster if the cabinet were to gain less than 38 seats on March 2. It would not lead to a ‘Belgian situation’, as prime minister Rutte recently suggested. On the contrary, it could strengthen the position of his minority cabinet.
This is an unofficial translation

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