The suggestion of the resigned scouts Kajsa Ollongren (D66) and Annemarie Jorritsma (VVD) to give the elected CDA Member of Parliament Pieter Omtzigt a ‘position elsewhere’ angered the Christian Democrats and put a bomb under the further negotiations. Can confidence still be restored?
Rarely has the reconnaissance phase of the formation been so chaotic. The suggestion to call into question the position of Omtzigt, which alone accounts for nearly five seats in the House, caused bad blood among almost all parties.
On Wednesday or Thursday, the House of Representatives will debate the debacle with Ollongren and Jorritsma.
Not only did the reason look awkward, an ANP photographer accidentally recorded the comment on an A4 sheet on Thursday when Ollongren rushed home because she had tested positive for corona. The explanation the following days was also painful.
First, Ollongren and Jorritsma put the negotiators Mark Rutte (VVD) and Sigrid Kaag (D66) out of the wind. The note was “not a direct reflection” of the conversations with Rutte and Kaag, but was intended as “preliminary input”, they wrote. The other party leaders also had nothing to do with it, they swore.
The new scouts Tamara van Ark (VVD) and Wouter Koolmees (D66) then pointed to a statement outside of politics: the comment of their predecessors was based, among other things, on media reports. That in turn caused irritation. “What a scandalous smoke screen”, PVV leader Geert Wilders grumbled on Twitter.
Still no answer to the most important question
In an ultimate attempt to take the cold out of the air, Ollongren and Jorritsma acknowledged that the leaked note was their mistake and not that of the media, apologized and took full blame.
The only question that was not answered was who was responsible for the offending sentence: ‘Position Omtzigt, function elsewhere’.
It will become the central question if Ollongren and Jorritsma will justify themselves “in all humility” in the Chamber.
It remains to be seen whether the CDA is satisfied with this. Even now Omtzigt has let it be known that in the long term he will ‘just’ sit in Parliament again for his party.
Confidence has taken a serious blow to party leader Wopke Hoekstra, he said last week to the AD. Hoekstra himself also surfaced in Ollongren’s note. It was about his ‘negotiating style’ and about which cabinet post he might receive. Hoekstra: “It’s a blast.”
The former scouts will have to come up with more than what they wrote in their last letter to satisfy the CDA and other critical parties.
Does ‘Rutte doctrine’ reappear during debate?
This immediately raises another issue: how transparent should the formation be? If it had been up to Rutte, nobody would have come to answer for the blunder. “That is not possible. That is not possible”, said the VVD leader in front of the camera last Thursday News hour.
A day later he had to swallow that comment again when his party eventually also supported the debate with the retired scouts.
Was this another example of ‘Rutte doctrine’? This term came to the fore during the hearings about the benefits affair, intended to characterize the prime minister’s lack of transparency in executive style.
Rutte believes that civil servants should be able to communicate with their political bosses carefree, without fear that those conversations will ever become public.
Omtzigt often ran into this doctrine as a protagonist in the allowance file. He regularly made a point of this in his sparse campaign appearances. Viewed in this way, the debate is also a clash between two styles.
In any case, one thing is certain: the desired fast formation will be delayed anyway.