For weeks, Mark Rutte has been in tension in the Binnenhof: before the next round of formation – Wednesday’s parliamentary debate – he will unveil “extremist ideas” through which he wants to improve the administrative culture. The crucial thing is to announce that he will consider his role in this matter.
The result of this internal research is significant: if Rottie can’t convince the house of the new “me,” he can forget his fourth cabinet he dreamed of. For many MPs, the outgoing prime minister is the embodiment, for example, of intrigues between coalition factions and the government. Unhealthy for democracy, detective Hermann Tejink Willink concluded: Duality must be restored, and force and counterforce must be returned to equilibrium.
For parties like PVV, SP, and BIJ1, that’s reason enough to rule out collaboration with Rutte. PvdD, Denk, and BBB all say this more subtly: They consider themselves unreasonable if they are going to do business with Rutte. CU leader Changed Yan Segers has said goodbye to Roti.
Rutte opportunities lie in the middle of the room. CDA, D66, GroenLinks and PvdA are already skeptical, but willing to listen to their plans.
Space is more important
So far, Rutte has not wanted to talk much about the details of his proposals. He is expected to be in a TV interview on Monday night News Hour He will reveal, and then he will speak to the House of Representatives about it on Wednesday. However, he has already hinted in recent weeks that he wants to curtail the weekly coalition meeting with party heads and deputy prime ministers (so that Parliament has a more significant deadline), and that he supports a weak coalition agreement. And that he no longer wants to assign the policy to “advisory tables” – as happened with the prevention agreement and the climate agreement – which is presented to Parliament as a fait accompli.
These ideas are not “radical”: a large portion of the House of Representatives also wants to get rid of coalition pressure and the agreement is no longer an internal coalition. There has been widespread annoyance in the Binnenhof for some time over the agreements being concluded outside Parliament. In response to the benefits case, the outgoing Rutte III Cabinet decided that the personal policy opinions of civil servants could no longer be used to circumvent the constitutional obligation to provide information. The ban on contact between MPs and civil servants has been lifted.
It wouldn’t be easy for Rutte to add something sensation-inducing. The VVD summit has now softened expectations. The focus will be on personal reflection: how Rota looked back at the past weeks, what went wrong in his eyes ten years into his premiership, and what he saw as prime minister over the next four years.
Whether the answers to these questions will be satisfactory enough to restore confidence in D66 and CDA and lure GroenLinks and PvdA onto the shaping table? The two left-wing parties are clearly taking a breather: they have yet to see how they can carry on with Rute. At the same time, they did not close the door to negotiations categorically.
Instead of supporting a new motion of distrust against Rute, they themselves came up with a proposal that could be seen as a first commitment to formation: more money for the social law profession, strengthening of citizens’ legal status and a firm approach to racism and discrimination. The VVD made a drastic transformation that late evening a couple of weeks ago and helped the movement in the majority.
Rutte will now have to go through the dust again, which is also recognized in VVD, but without blaming everything that went wrong in recent years. After all, there were many of his coalition partners. With all those coalition talks, tighter agreements, and poor answers to parliamentary questions, they wanted to preserve as much control as possible, because they believed it would be better for government stability.
This is an old and now hated policy – things can go quickly at the Binnenhof. The bridle must be loosened. You risk, Rota might warn. The Rutte II and Rutte III were very stable treasuries, despite their shaky majorities in Parliament. If the new coalition canceled the mutual consultations, heated discussions would arise between cabinet members and between cabinet and parliament. Nuisance fires indoors are not excluded.
For Mark Root – by nature a very fond of control and predictability – this is an unexplored territory. However, he will have to believe this. This week he not only has to convince Lillian Blumen and Jesse Claver that he has completely reinvented himself, but especially his supporters.
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