A ‘neighbourly’ state, more power for parliament and more trust between citizen and government. Leader of the new BBB farmer citizen party Caroline van der Plas outlined her vision for the future of Dutch government in a lecture on Monday.
Van der Plas, who is half-Irish, at one point broke into song to warn that increasing polarisation meant has a breakdown of social trust – in the words of Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence, “people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening.”
She advocated a kind of social government based on the countryside idea of kinship or noaberschap and said a coalition agreement should be based on broad lines while the detail is worked out by parliament.
Van der Plas has said that if her party won the election – it is currently third in the polls – she would not want to be prime minister. Defecting Christian Democrat Mona Keijzer, standing second on the BBB list, would take this role.
In the HJ Schoo lecture, Van der Plas said that the Netherlands is experiencing a crisis in trust between citizens and government, blaming “institutional urbanism” favouring the centre but ignoring the regions, overreaching bureaucracy in other areas and a “white collar government” of highly-educated technocrats living in their own bubble.
“It is a problem that the government is pulling back from the [whole of] the Netherlands but also that the same administrative state seems to be interfering in everything,” she said. “The government needs to stop being a big business.”
Advocating for farmers’ interests, she said that export should not be a dirty word, that climate policy should be “bearable, feasible and practical” and that any coalition should be tested twice a year by parliament and some policies with a referendum.
She also suggested that instead of parties sitting in parliament on a left-right spectrum, there should be a simple lottery for spots – to represent the fact that “the Dutch don’t live in a spectrum of left to right either” and that cooperation is key.
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