Friday 07 October 2022

Family financial worries dominate as MPs call for leadership

Prime minister Mark Rutte and ministers listen to the king’s speech. Photo: Robin van Lonkhuijsen ANP

Coalition parties have welcomed the government’s plans to allocate almost €18 billion towards shoring up spending power but opposition MPs say the government is still too slow to act, in initial reactions to the king’s speech.

CDA parliamentary chairman Pieter Heerma described the package of measures as ‘huge’ and welcomed the move to introduce a price cap on energy bills, in line with other EU countries.

At the same time, he acknowledged the need for ‘solidarity and togetherness to get through the crisis.

ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers described the day’s events as an ‘old-fashioned celebration of democracy’, referring to the two years without the pageantry during the coronavirus crisis.

Nevertheless, the party is taking place ‘against a background of major financial concerns facing many families and the bitter need for politicians and government to be there for those who are vulnerable’, the coalition party leader said.

Opposition MP and SP leader Lilian Marijnissen said on social media that the cabinet was putting the livelihoods of many Dutch people, and thus our society, at risk.

‘The costs for people still have to come down this year. If [prime minister Mark] Rutte and [finance minister Sigrid] Kaag are unable to reduce costs, they will have to make way for others who can,’ she said.

PvdA leader Attje Kuiken said the cabinet is too late in taking action. ‘Lot of what is being done is short term,’ she said. ‘It may brake rising poverty now, but it will not end it.’

Delays

‘This cabinet has tied itself in knots,’ said GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver in a reaction to the king’s speech. ‘Whether is its people’s livelihoods, the climate or the nitrogen crisis, Rutte IV is delaying tackling all the big problems. The Netherlands needs decisiveness and leadership.’

Klaver did welcome the government’s decision to impose a price cap on energy bills but said much was still unclear. He and PvdA MPs earlier proposed the introduction of a price cap which was described as ‘constructive’ by energy minister Rob Jetten at the time.

Both parties too will be needed to get support for the government’s spending plans through the upper house of parliament, where the ruling coalition does not have a majority.

Mirror

Caroline van der Plas, founder of the pro-farmers’ party BBB, said she was most concerned about the lack of trust in politics, and the cabinet’s delay in taking action. Many of her supporters, she said, live in rural areas and feel that their needs have been completely ignored.

MP Sylvana Simons, the sole parliamentarian for the left wing anti-racist party Bij1, wore a metallic dress for the occasion. ‘At times when crisis keep mounting up and trust in politics is at its lowest point, it is important to hold up a mirror to the government,’ she said on Twitter.

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