After more than six months of deadlock, there is a breakthrough in government formation in the Netherlands. The Social-Liberal D66 still wants to talk about the continuation of the current government. This is a boost to Prime Minister Mark Root.
“Something has to be done,” said Sigrid Kaag, leader of the D66, on Thursday afternoon after a party summit meeting. She declared that she was no longer opposed to negotiations with the liberal VVD party, Christian Democrats, and the Christian Union. And with that, after months of stagnation, the formation is finally regaining its momentum.
With its transformation, Kaag paved the way for the restart of the Rutte III government, which was composed of the same four parties. Immediately after the March 17 parliamentary elections, this reissue seemed the most logical solution, because the ruling parties once again gained a majority. But Cage was stubborn from the start.
The D66 emerged in March as a surprise second party, after Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD. The D66 booked a big seat gain with its promise of “new leadership” and wanted to push ahead with a progressive alliance. Judging with ChristenUnie has been particularly difficult, because both sides’ positions on abortion and euthanasia are far apart, threatening a four-year stalemate in the medical-ethical field.
Society calls for positive flexibility, for action, for decisive government.
Cage looked at PvdA and GroenLinks. This courtship was complicated because both left-wing parties clung to each other. This did not appeal to VVD and CDA. They forbade any attempt to enter into a bipartisan government, as it would be too leftist. Moreover, the support of GroenLinks or PvdA was sufficient for a majority in Parliament.
In order to get out of the impasse, veteran whistleblower Johan Remix has explored several avenues in recent days, from minority government with VVD, CDA and D66 to an extra-parliamentary cabinet made up of politicians from several parties who have an unrestricted relationship with the House of Representatives. The alternatives have always rested on stone cold. New elections seemed inevitable.
In a final attempt to force a breakthrough, Remix gathered party leaders from nine parties “from the political center” on Wednesday. After hours of talks – including a sectarian session with Remix – Kaag dropped her opposition to the continuation of the third Rota government. VVD and CDA have previously indicated that they want to work with ChristenUnie.
Cage secured D66 party bureau approval on Thursday afternoon. “Society calls for positive resilience, for action, for decisive government,” Kag said in a brief statement. The only alternative was elections. Kaag: Nobody benefits from new elections. They are paralyzing politics for at least another six months. Then the big decisions won’t be made.
Despite its transformation, Kaag warned that the new government must take a different, more progressive path. We wish the next government would be more progressive, more generous, more open, and more humane. Either we do it right or we don’t. Kaag brought up climate policy, education and Europe as the most important topics for her party.
The fact that Rutte-III appears to be restarting now is a defeat for the D66. The party likes to stress that it has taken its responsibility to bring the formation out of the doldrums. However, critics accuse Kag of holding the country hostage for more than six months with her opposition to ChristenUnie, whom she called “the rusty car” last summer.
For outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) Kaag’s kneeling is a boost. Together with the CDA of Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra, he formed a right-wing tandem and pushed the D66 into the corner. According to insiders, the relationship between Rutte and Kaag is completely destroyed. At the beginning of September, the D66 leader accused Rutte in a lecture of a lack of “reliability, openness and effective management”.
The formation is a long talk and in the end Mark Rutte is the prime minister. It doesn’t matter what.
Immediately after the election, Rutte was already caught in a lie. During the exploratory talks, he had suggested silencing critical MP Peter Umtzegt. When it leaked, he first denied it and then claimed he forgot. The House subsequently approved a motion of censure, supported by D66.
“This is where our paths split,” Kaag told Rutte during one of the debates. But after more than half a year she is still attached to him. By filing a veto against ChristenUnie, Kaag even paved the way for Rutte’s fourth government. Or, as writer Sheila Sitalsing wrote in De Volkskrant on Thursday: “The formation has been talking for a long time and in the end Mark Rutte is the prime minister. It makes no sense what.