Opposition party leaders were quick to criticise this year’s optimistic king’s speech, claiming it ignored the challenges the Netherlands faces.
The speech, written by the government, did not include any major policy pledges because there will be a general election next year.
But it was far too self-satisfied, according to Alexander Pechtold, leader of the D66 Liberal democrats. ‘There is talk of conflict in society but this was not translated into policy,’ he said. ‘And there are still too many people without jobs – twice as many as before the crisis.’
Christian Democratic party leader Sybrand Buma said the government’s message that the Netherlands is a better place comes in ‘sharp contrast to people’s everyday experiences’. Everyone, he said, can see there are great doubts about the country’s future and social polarization. ‘The cabinet has nothing to offer,’ he surmised.
Buma told broadcaster NOS that ministers are failing to tackle problems with the jobs market, pensions and the way people deal with each other. ‘You can’t buy this off with a couple of spending-power presents,’ he said. ‘That won’t solve the problems we have.’
Jesse Klaver, leader of the left-wing green GroenLinks, said the government’s finances might be in good shape but society is divided. In addition, he said, the government has failed to address the need to improve the climate.
Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam PVV who wants a ban on Muslim immigration, said the king’s speech was a fairy tale. ‘People see that the country is being demolished,’ he said. ‘Look at healthcare, tax increases, refugees, the trouble in Zaandam. We are losing our country.’
Socialist party leader Emile Roemer also dismissed the ‘unrealistic’ view painted of Dutch society. ‘The government’s spending cuts made the crisis longer and more serious,’ he claimed.
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