ANP / Edit: NOSDe Deputy Prime Ministers (left to right) Schouten (CU), Hoekstra (CDA) and Kaag (D66) and Prime Minister Rutte (VVD)
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 16:34
Confusion everywhere, one day after the near-crisis in The Hague. Because what happened? And has this feat of political balancing act prevented the cabinet from falling, or will it happen later this year?
Yesterday afternoon, after the Council of Ministers, tensions increased among journalists in The Hague. Normally, after the weekly cabinet meeting, they receive an e-mail with the time when Prime Minister Rutte will give his press conference, but that was now delayed.
Prime Minister Rutte (VVD) and Deputy Prime Ministers Kaag (D66), Hoekstra (CDA) and Schouten (ChristenUnie) were still together to discuss the results of the provincial elections. The enormous gains of BBB in all provinces and the loss of their own parties could not be without consequences.
It was the umpteenth time this week that they were together. Something really had to be put on paper. Because Tuesday afternoon is the debate on the election results and the members of the House of Representatives want to know in advance where the cabinet stands.
The waiting reporters began tweeting:
Various sources informed NOS about the compromise that had been reached within. That led to an online message around ten to eight, with the conclusion that time was bought on the nitrogen dossier to keep the CDA on board. In the headline was the word ‘pause’.
Ten minutes later, Rutte denied at an impromptu press conference that there was a crisis or a break. “We are actually accelerating,” he said. He acknowledged that serious talks had taken place.
They had led to a complicated magic formula, which means that the cabinet is putting nitrogen policy on the back burner until it is clear what agreements the new coalitions in the provinces will make.
Wait and speed up?
The journalists present immediately questioned the story. Because how can the cabinet wait on the one hand for what BBB will agree on nitrogen in the provinces, and on the other say that the nitrogen measures will be accelerated? That can’t both be true, can it?
The reactions from ‘outside’ were also clear. “Hallucinating”, GroenLinks leader Klaver called the deal. Farmers, builders and nature clubs also reacted with incomprehension.
Political reporter Xander van der Wulp summarized it as follows: “Rutte shrouds himself in vagueness and contradictions, but the essence is that his cabinet buys time. We seem to be able to expect an ‘intermediate formation’ before the summer, because the CDA has indicated that later wanting to renegotiate the nitrogen targets.”
The difficultly reached coalition agreement from 2021 states that nitrogen emissions must be halved by 2030. The CDA has great difficulty with that deadline, because the traditional constituency of farmers in the provinces feels pressured by it and has switched en masse to BBB. That competing party insists that the nitrogen deadline is legally set in 2035 and that the coalition itself has brought it forward.
The CDA, which has almost halved in the provincial elections, and currently has the most to lose if the cabinet falls and new elections, apparently played hard last night.
Tuesday’s parliamentary debate should show whether the coalition parties can keep their story alive.
Political reporter Lars Geerts
“Are we now looking at a postponed cabinet crisis? To be honest, I think there is a very good chance. Some time has been bought to see whether a fall of the cabinet can be avoided. But the provinces will be there before the summer know which way they want to go with the nitrogen policy. And then there may also be a new agricultural agreement with the agricultural sector on much more than nitrogen. The CDA may then no longer be alone in wanting to adjust the year. Hoekstra’s negotiating position a lot stronger.
It may be that the four parties find the peace and quiet to work it out. But in the meantime, of course, this is not the only file that plays and can cause a break. For example, there is still disagreement about migration and it is not certain whether the distribution law for asylum reception will receive a parliamentary majority. And an answer has yet to come to the Groningen parliamentary committee, which recently came up with a hard-hitting report.
All this indicates that the foundation under this coalition is showing quite a few cracks. So it is not surprising that there is already speculation in the country about a fall of the cabinet. That also happens in politics in The Hague, I can assure you.”
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