NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 17:58
None of the parties in the House of Representatives is optimistic about the state of democracy, the judiciary and the opinion that citizens have of the government. This became apparent during the parliamentary debate on ‘the state of the rule of law’.
The difficult settlement of the benefits affair is the clearest example of this for various MPs.
“It is exactly three years ago that Rutte and Hoekstra talked to the benefit parents. A tear was even shed,” said SP Member of Parliament Leijten. “And last night we heard in Nieuwsuur that the settlement will take until 2030.”
At the initiative of former PvdA MP Arib, the House decided to take stock of the rule of law every year in 2021. Today was the first time. The direct cause was the benefits affair and the tens of thousands of parents and children who had been duped. But the central question was also: what can citizens expect from a careful government, and will they receive it?
For many people, contact with the government or agencies feels like an exhausting struggle.
CDA Member of Parliament Van Dijk
For many people, contact with the government or agencies feels like an exhausting battle, says CDA MP Van Dijk. She paints the picture of citizens who try to get their rights and only get the verdict after years of litigation.
“And then it is so complicated that you do not understand it and you feel stupid,” says Van Dijk. “There is a lack of empathy in the government.”
VVD MP Ellian mentioned the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport that continues to litigate not to disclose certain documents. “That’s not a pretty picture.” According to Ellian, the government too often chooses to go to court against its own citizens. “They get lost in a mess of procedures.”
Things are going wrong with the cabinet, as leader of the various ministries that implement the policy.
SP Member of Parliament Leijten
Leijten wants to lay down in law that the government must act in accordance with the ‘general principles of good governance’. This means that citizens should always be treated decently and that laws or regulations should never stand in the way of this.
“Things are going wrong with the cabinet, as the leader of the various ministries that implement the policy,” she said. PvdA and GroenLinks also want the agreement with the cabinet that policy should never turn out harsh. The ChristenUnie wants the government to see citizens again as human beings and not as customers. Denk wants to lay down in law that the government will stop selecting on the basis of origin or nationality.
The PVV has a different analysis. The Dutch constitutional state has flaws because “the elites control the institutions”, says Member of Parliament Bosma. He protested against an “increasingly broadening call for measures against dissenters”.
Bosma disagrees with D66 leader Kaag’s call for more “open resistance against right-wing extremists and conspiracy populists”. He thinks that established politics excludes people in this way. “The gap will therefore only become deeper and the hatred greater. Because who determines what is a conspiracy theory and what is not?”
Such a storming of the Capitol in the US or the parliament in Brazil, that is not at issue here.
JA21 leader Eerdmans
Most MPs do agree that an unjust and distant government leads to citizens losing confidence or even dropping out. Added to this is financial inequality. But whether this will also lead to a growing group of citizens initiating extreme actions, opinions are divided.
“Such a storming of the Capitol in the US or the parliament in Brazil, that is not an issue here,” says JA21 leader Eerdmans. “We have a few hangers-on, but they are really not going to do that.”
He refers to the latest report by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV). It speaks of dozens of extremists who use conspiracy theories to undermine confidence in the democratic legal order.
D66 also refers to the report. MP Sneller: “There are indeed many dropped out Dutch people who do not become extremist. But we should not pretend that it is normal about the hard core.” Eerdmans thinks that D66 is exaggerating.
Good will is no guarantee against injustice.
Minister Bruins Slot of the Interior
Minister Bruins Slot (Internal Affairs) wants to make a clear distinction between the small group who want to undermine the rule of law out of dissatisfaction and citizens who, despite their anger, are still committed to society. “I wouldn’t call them dropouts, because they aren’t.”
She assured the House that the cabinet is working on improvements. “I am convinced that we have a government that wants the best for the citizens. But goodwill is no guarantee against injustice.”
Bruins slot went on to say that “the repair” will require a lot of effort from the government.
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