Tuesday 02 June 2020

The cabinet so far

The cabinet is one year old today. The minority cabinet, with silent partner Geert Wilders wielding power from the wings, must be one of the most extraordinary in Dutch parliamentary history. So how is it doing? What the media say.

The Volkskrant writes that it is not so much about what has gone before but what is heading the cabinet’s way. With Wilders increasingly worried about the implications of the coalition parties’ government accord policies he may go as far as supporting a motion of no confidence should the need arise, going back on his promise not to do so.
‘It is going to be more difficult next year when subjects come up which we haven’t agreed on’, Wilders told the paper. ‘We didn’t know the extent of the European aid to Greece when we started out but my party and the government parties really do not see eye to eye about this. At all.We are still playing by the rules but we’re not comfortable with it’, he said.
Wilders is not ruling out a vote of no confidence from his party. ‘If Europe is going to affect out finances to the extent that we have to have more cutbacks, chances are that we will not agree. That would be the end of the line and we would go for a vote of no confidence. That is entirely possible.’
The Nos takes a look at prime minister Mark Rutte. What has he done to keep the ship and its mutinous first mate afloat? Rutte’s nonchalant style has been admired – ‘holding forth, hand in pocket’ – but it has also gotten him into trouble, the broadcaster says. ‘Time and again, on Libya, when three Dutch soldiers were arrested, the amount of money earmarked for the emergency fund – ‘I spent eight hours looking at the figures and I know what I’m talking about – , the queen’s state visit to Oman.. Rutte got it wrong and has had to apologize. He is becoming conscious of the fact that he should be less careless with his words.’
The opposition meanwhile has not profited from the VVD-CDA-PVV alliance. ‘On important subjects like the extension of the Kunduz mission and pensions the opposition parties have supported the cabinet only to start a debate among themselves. It’s divide and rule’, the Nos concludes.
Afshin Ellian, in Elsevier, calls the criss-cross party political support in parliament a ‘blessing for democracy’. ‘The cabinet has to deal with everyone, including the opposition. It needed Job Cohen’s support to hike up the pension age to 67. Is this just in the cabinet’s favour? No, proper negotiations with the oppositions also benefit the left-wing vote. A majority cabinet would not even consider the opposition’s views.’
Trouw detects an opposite trend as well: a coalition party siding with the opposition. The Christian Democrats, increasingly uncomfortable with this cabinet’s emphasis on the economy, has been ‘profiling itself’, as a party that promotes social cohesion. PvdA mp Jeroen Dijsselbloem is not surprised: ‘ It stands to reason. Like the PvdA they are not doing well in the polls and they have to do something about it.’
GroenLinks mp Tofik Dibi comments that ‘our cooperation with the Christian Democrats is improving. The ruling that allows girls from Aghanistan like Sahar to stay would have been impossible under the government accord but we have it all the same.’
SP leader Emiel Roemer says the recent altercation between CDA immigration minister Gerd Leers and Geert Wilders – about the minister’s comment that immigration enriches the country – is a sign that ‘the Christian Democrats are starting to distance themselves and they are telling their voters so.’

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