17 Nov 2023 at 05:02
BBB leader Caroline van der Plas is ready. After 2.5 years of opposition, she thinks it is time for her party to take responsibility. In a new coalition, she wants to work on a long-term vision for the Netherlands. “What kind of country do we want to be? And what choices do that entail?”
In March, the BoerCurgerBeweging became the largest party in all provinces at the Provincial Council elections in March. This resulted in no fewer than sixteen seats in the Senate.
Since then, the BBB has mattered in The Hague. The party, now polled at around nine seats, is mentioned as a possible coalition partner by both VVD party leader Dilan Yesilgöz and NSC party leader Pieter Omtzigt.
If that happens, Van der Plas wants to invest heavily to get things back in order.
Do you dare to make hard choices?
“If that has to be done, it has to be done. But what that should be about… That remains the question. We have laid down visions in our election manifesto. I believe that you should come to terms in the coalition negotiations.”
“But a hard choice I am making is that you can decide to allow the national debt to increase. If that is necessary to get health care in particular, but also education, the labor shortage, you name it, in order.”
Suppose cuts have to be made, where do you cut first?
“In the government apparatus. There are many management layers and eight hundred communications staff at ministries. There are also ministries that do not work together integrally and do everything separately.”
“If there are cuts to healthcare, I have a hard time deciding whether I want to participate in such a cabinet. That is the next hard choice I will make: I might decide to join the opposition after all.” .”
NU.nl has delved into the election programmes. Read here what parties want with:
The Netherlands is aging and healthcare costs are increasing every year. Do you think continuing to invest in healthcare is the right thing to do?
“Yes, take dental care for example. If we include that in the basic package, it will ultimately generate money. And the elderly now stay in hospital for too long because they cannot go to a nursing home. If we have retirement homes again, that will also make money.”
Where do we get the staff who have to work in retirement homes?
“Many people indicate that they spend 40 percent of their time checking boxes and filling out forms. Then they have to fill in for the insurer that the lady is incontinent and later fill in again whether she still is. “Yes, she still is. “That won’t go away.” This unnecessary administrative burden is one of the reasons they stop doing it.”
“If the people who work in healthcare can really care again, they will also want to continue working in healthcare.”
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Don’t we also need migrant workers for healthcare?
“Yes, but only if it is really necessary. If we cannot solve it ourselves, you could think about bringing people from outside the EU here for a strict period of three or five years to work in healthcare.”
Returning to the choices that will soon have to be made at the formation table: your election manifesto states that you want to fairly compensate the unlucky generation, that the minimum wage and benefits must increase in the long term, that companies should not be used as ATMs… Is all of this possible? at the same time?
“Look at that unlucky generation, those young people have simply been cheated by the government. And yes, we want to increase the minimum wage in the long term, but then we also say that employer contributions must decrease. Otherwise, SMEs and supplying companies will get into trouble.”
All people all have a different wish. How you will fulfill that wish will be determined at the end of the ride.
Caroline van der Plas, BBB party leader
You can’t be friends with everyone.
“I think this is such a shame. Everyone looks at the dots in the election manifestos, but no one reads the first part (in this part the BBB outlines a vision of a better Netherlands, ed.).”
“In no program will everything that is stated be implemented. That is not the case with the CDA, not with the VVD, and not with us either. But you do indicate what you would prefer. Let’s start with creating a long-term vision for the Netherlands. And thus entering the coalition negotiations.”
But are you ultimately more supportive of, for example, that voter with a low income, a student or the business community?
“All people have a different wish. How you fulfill that wish will be determined at the end of the day. Look, there are parties, such as the SP, that simply say: we will just grab a lot of those large profitable companies. “
Are you not in favor of that?
“No, because they forget that many large companies also offer a lot of work to supplying and SME companies. Just grab everything there, that is a very easy choice.”
“We do write ‘the broadest shoulders bear the heaviest burdens’. They must also be able to contribute more.”
What Do You Mean By That? For example, do you want people who earn more to pay more taxes? Or are you looking at assets, for example?
“I’m going to tell you again. As I also said at the beginning of the interview, I think that is something that you should discuss in the coalition. You should not now say as a party: we are going to do exactly the same, we are going to do it exactly the same way. You will soon have to negotiate with each other and then you will not be able to comply.”
“We have to look at a fair and just policy. And we have to look at the longer term, what investments yield. You have to take all that into account in the choice.”
Speaking of that coalition. Who do you see as your favorite coalition partners?
Let me put it another way. Who do you think I can work out with?
“Look, NSC, VVD could be good options. I could come to an agreement with them, possibly. But I also see things in the programs there that make me think: well, I don’t really know.”
Omtzigt wants a reduction in intensive pig farming and towards land-based dairy farming. Are you shocked by his program on these points?
“Well, he is putting it very bluntly. It will cost twenty thousand jobs and 1.7 billion euros. I want to know from Pieter how he sees it. Whether he is not adding fuel to the fire while farmers are still yearning for a future perspective.”
He’s going to have to move your way at this point?
“Yes, certainly. Many farmers want to continue. They also look at Pieter with a bit of fear and trembling. If he goes with GL-PvdA, what will happen?”
Do you think there is room for everything in the Netherlands? You want more homes and to preserve the farmland, but your program does not include a reduction in aviation, for example.
“That is the question. Let’s start creating a long-term vision for the Netherlands. We all need space, literally and figuratively. What kind of country do we want to be? What choices do that entail?”
“I think we should create that vision together. We should reach some kind of Dutch agreement with all organizations. Everyone wants everything, but the Netherlands is not getting bigger.”
But do you have an idea of what the Netherlands should look like?
“We must at least try to protect food production as much as possible. We have a strong agricultural sector here, a good climate and fertile soil. And we also have a very high level of knowledge of sustainable, high-quality and food-safe agriculture.”
NU.nl will speak to various party leaders in the run-up to November 22.
Read the interview with NSC party leader Pieter Omtzigt. Read the interview with JA21 party leader Joost Eerdmans. Read the interview with PvdD party leader Esther Ouwehand. Read the interview with SP party leader Lilian Marijnissen. Read the interview with Volt party leader Laurens Dassen. Read the interview with D66 party leader Rob Jetten. Read the interview with PVV party leader Geert Wilders. Read the interview with CDA party leader Henri Bontenbal.
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