Farmers’ party BBB, the Socialist Party, minority rights party Denk and the far right have all said they will not follow tradition and allow the state’s macro-economic think tank CPB to analyse the implications of their programmes for the November general election.
Since the mid 1980s it has been customary for parties to submit their manifestos to the CPB, which then looks at the likely impact on the country’s financial position and the potential effect on spending power.
The process, says the Volkskrant, allows an independent look at the economic consequences of party plans, so that those which are financially untenable can be highlighted. “It is,” the paper said, “handy for voters to be able to see what the impact of a pledged tax cut could mean for healthcare spending or the quality of education.”
The tradition began in 1986 when the PvdA, CDA and VVD handed over their manifestos for analysis and has grown into an important part of the electoral process.
But not everyone is happy about the CPB’s approach and its focus on spending power changes in particular.
Independent MP Pieter Omtzigt, who has not yet said what his plans for the election are, has not registered for the check. He is a long-time critic of the process and says the CPB is too dominant in the political process and in policy making.
The SP has now opted out for similar reasons, with party leader Lilian Marijnissens saying she does not want to be part of a tug of war about a percentage point difference in economic growth.
The pro-animal PvdD has also said no. “Not everything of value can be expressed in money,” a spokesman told the Volkskrant. “Economic growth is not the solution but lies at the heart of many of the problems we are now dealing with.”
Last Wednesday was the last date for taking part. The parties don’t have to submit a full manifesto – because they could well change in the pending round of party conferences to finalise election plans.
Meanwhile, former CPB chief Coen Teulings told the Telegraaf in an interview that many political parties are unrealistic in their manifestos.
“Politicians tend to promise an awful lot at the moment,” he told the paper. “Voters are unhappy and the answer would seem to be ‘let us promise them more’.”
Free childcare, higher taxes for the rich and building hundreds of thousands of affordable homes are among the unrealistic pledges which have been made, he said.
“No-one can now avoid the fact that the energy transition needs to be central in the coming cabinet period after this hot summer,” he said. “At the same time, we have a shortage of labour. And that means we need to make tough choices about what to focus on. I really do wonder if political parties will be able to ditch some of their promises.”
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