Belief in a new management culture, if any at all, has sunk deep among the opposition leaders who will receive Minister Kag and Prime Minister Rutte in their parliament chambers on Wednesday. The alliance is in no hurry to make a budget deal with them, is the common impression.
“It’s of course a bit of a social visit,” says Liane den Haan (formerly 50PLUS). Thierry Baudet (FvD) talks about a “show tour”. Fellow JA21’s Joost Eerdmans feels like he’s part of a “weird shadow play”. And then, Dink Party Chairman Fred Azrakan had the impression that Kag and Ruti had come to give him “a kind of courtesy visit”.
Irony—and in some cases: pragmatism—falls off the walls in the eight or nine faction rooms frequented by party leaders at VVD and D66 on Wednesdays. This is while the round of talks by Rutte and Kaj with all opposition parties, including individual factions, was explained in advance as a concrete expression of the new administrative culture. The unspoken message of the coalition to the opposition when the talks were announced was, “We take everyone seriously and are open to all ideas.”
Good negotiating position
A number of opposition leaders are under the illusion that the coalition has to deal with them under great pressure. The Cabinet must strike a political deal with at least one opposition party to get the new budget plans through the Senate. Finance Minister Kag will submit a spring note by June 1 at the latest. Before that date, you must reach an agreement on covering a budget deficit of at least 15 billion euros. So the opposition leaders have a good negotiating position, they think.
This turned out to be a misconception. During the talks, Rutte and Kag made it clear that the Spring Memo was nearing completion. Kag will likely send it to the House of Representatives by the end of next week. For the greater part of the $1 billion deficit in the national budget, including the costs of reforming the Box 3 tax (savings tax), the Cabinet does not have to arrange financial coverage until September or even later. The government has already absorbed the increase in the defense budget without knocking on the opposition’s door. They can also make up for the bulk of the budget’s financial setbacks later, say Rutte and Kaag.
Alliance scouts hear the opposition leaders, but keep all the cards on their chest. Angry Jesse Claver (GroenLinks) feels taken for a ride after the conversation (which he had with PvdA leader Attje Kuiken). The alliance has been negotiating among themselves for weeks, if not months. They have reached broad agreement with each other. Then they come here and refuse to tell us what they agreed on. They are just getting some information. Yes, sorry, this has nothing to do with a new way of doing politics. that’s normal old school Alliance policies.
Baudette says he accepted the invitation out of pure politeness. He never believed in a new ruling culture. ‘I see this as a show, then interface design To act as if they really sought support from all sides. The FvD leader anticipates that the alliance will eventually strike another secret deal, possibly with GroenLinks and PvdA. “I think they already have what they want on their mind and of course they don’t come to us to publicly review their climate agenda.”
To their dismay, Claver, Kouken, and Socialist Party leader Lillian Marijnsen discovered a “lack of a sense of urgency” in Rutte and Kaag. Koiken: ‘The prime minister and the finance minister are coming in, so I thought: they must have a sense of the scale of the problems in the country. But none of that. They literally hung back a bit to hear what we wanted. We told them this, but there was no real response. They said to everything we suggested: This is difficult, this is complicated or: We don’t know yet.
Marijnissen: I was shocked when they said it would take some time to tackle wealth inequality. While the House of Representatives adopted the proposal of the Socialist Party, it asks the Council of Ministers to put forward proposals before the summer. But Rutte and Kaj are now pointing out: This is hard, tough, tough. Maybe that won’t work. As I understand it will take longer to fix the purchasing power. Obviously, it is not possible to raise the minimum wage this year either.
Commander Azerkan thinks this is a somewhat naive response. Of course, the real negotiations will not begin until after the spring memorandum. What you can still change this year in terms of taxes and the like is very limited. This is really the first exploration. I didn’t expect at all that we would negotiate now. I would say to others: give it a chance. I think it is commendable that they are already gathering ideas for next year’s budget at such an early stage.
There is no concrete place between Ruti and Kaj regarding the plans that the alliance has already made. The coalition parties instructed the two sensors to keep the opposition in the dark about this. Kaag and Rutte also did not make it clear during the conversations what they would do with the retrieved information, and what their next step would be. Will they return to a second round of talks? no one knows. Azraqan: “How will the process proceed….there was no clear answer to that.” When asked, Kaag said she will discuss the outcome of talks in the coalition next week. She can’t or won’t tell what’s next.
Avid music fanatic. Communicator. Social media expert. Award-winning bacon scholar. Alcohol fan.