When Natasja Dipai, 33, saw on Thursday what VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie would do to continue reigning in Rutte IV, “I felt like a knife had been stabbed in my back.” “It’s the same coalition that has shown us over the past two years that it can’t help us,” she says. We, these are 47,000 people who have reported themselves as victims in the benefits case – Dipai is one of them.
It seems, says Kristi Röngen, the victim who asked VVD leader Mark Rutte in February during an election debate why he had not resigned, as if The Hague had forgotten where the whole political crisis began: the issue of allowances. At the beginning of this year, Rutte-III fell on the report of the Parliamentary Inquiry, which concluded that Saleh’s parents had committed an “unprecedented injustice” by the government.
Since then, this issue has been seen as the definitive formulation of a political culture in which citizens came to stand against the government, where politicians did not pay attention to the implementation of the rules they set, from covering ministers to removing MPs, from very solid political relations within the coalition and the House of Representatives that were stripped of his controlling power. In fact the entire political system has gone adrift.
That must change, party leaders said in unison in the spring.
Will it be different?
Negotiators pledged Thursday afternoon that formation negotiations between political leaders who have worked together over the past four years would be a “new beginning.” The alliance agreement could become less fragile; The debate can be left to the House of Representatives. But whistleblower Johan Remix warned in his closing press conference on Thursday of the consequences of forming a new majority government. “If the treasuries can count on the majority up front, it has to do with the ease with automated driving, we have the majority. And that is not good for the political process.”
The attempt to make Rutte-III Rutte-IV follows political logic. Rutte’s VVD became the biggest in the March election. He then spoke falsely about the “position elsewhere” to then-CDA member Peter Umtzigt, but remained after the censure movement and was soon rehabilitated. First by his coalition partners and then by GroenLinks and PvdA – parties that see or have seen the bearer of the old political culture in Rutte, but also wanted to rule with him.
In this political logic – you have to reach out to each other, you can’t ignore each other – the negotiations for a fourth government under Rutte with the same composition of his party as his third, is an explainable consequence of a formation in which all other options have been crossed out.
“How can causalists be problem solvers?” Parent asks Rongen benefits. “If the same government comes back, it won’t change our situation much,” Depay says. “Rutte got away with it. It seems that the issue of allowances has become an afterthought, as if it was over.”
Also read this analysis: Now that the formation has finally started, there really is nothing to lose
But for Dipai, this is not the case at all. Her suffering continued throughout Rota’s time. It began in 2010 with a letter in which three thousand euros in benefits were recovered – Dipai could not prove that it was not her, but the childcare who made a mistake, because the childcare did not want to provide documents. Her tax debt initially grew to 30,000 euros and is now 65,000 euros. On top of that, about 40 thousand euros of other debts were added, “because with debts you become debts,” she says – loans from friends and banks to pay off other debts and survive. First, Depay and her husband lost their impounded car, then their job, then their home, and finally each other. Depay had a stroke, due to the tension she believes to be half paralyzed, so her husband went back to take care of her and her children. They are now fighting together again.
But it turned out Thursday afternoon that it could take years before all the victims in the allowances case are compensated. In addition, it turned out that officials had already read a 2017 memo warning against the illegality of collecting allowances – the existence of the document has been denied for years.
This week, political leaders were still talking about the need for a new governance culture. but how? It remains unclear what change they have made in thinking about the relationship between government and citizens – “managerial culture” is in danger of becoming an all-encompassing vague term.
In addition, the political parties last week chose the “safe” option of a majority government, which by definition is guaranteed adequate support in the House of Representatives. An experimental minority cabinet that Detective Remix was in favor of was rejected, precisely because it would make more room for the House of Representatives.
Also read this analysis: Spinning the D66 suddenly makes restarting the Rutte III possible
Moreover, the potential Rutte IV challenge is more substantial, at least if the parties are to address the broadly identified problems in government performance. How do they intend to shape the relationship between citizens and the government in a way that does not create a new alternative issue? In fact, it concerns the essence of a liberal society: how can a citizen be protected from the absolute power of the state? National Ombudsman Rainer van Zutphen said Friday that for citizens that possibility is “much smaller than I ever thought.” Norwegian Refugee Council. Once identified as a fraud, whoever is unlucky, in other words, seeing the government against them, must fight against the brutal Leviathan.
Preferably the parent benefits Dipai no longer following the policy. “But I have to, because it’s about my family’s future. We need to keep talking about the allowance issue so they keep feeling pressure to get it sorted out.”
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on October 2, 2021
A version of this article also appeared on NRC on the morning of October 2, 2021
Avid music fanatic. Communicator. Social media expert. Award-winning bacon scholar. Alcohol fan.