While General Political Reflections were in full swing in the House of Representatives, the biggest news came from outside parliament. The deteriorated corona figures ensure that the cabinet will announce new measures on Friday, but the House was not yet able to debate with the cabinet on Wednesday.
PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher asked Prime Minister Mark Rutte, only a listener in the House on Wednesday, for a letter with the latest state of affairs before the second day of the General Discussions starts on Thursday morning.
There were many questions and at least as many concerns about Wednesday’s rising corona numbers and about the corona measures taken, or the lack of them. During the debate, it was announced that North Holland and South Holland even received code red from Belgium and Germany.
“The number of infections is rising sharply, but not enough testing can be done. Dangerous,” said SP leader Lilian Marijnissen.
“We have to wait a long time for test results”, noted D66 party chairman Rob Jetten. “A vaccine is not yet in sight, and if it does, it will be a long time before it can be produced on a large scale.”
‘Giga problem if we don’t get virus under control’
Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA) recalled that during the summer recess there were about two hundred infections per week, on Wednesday there were more than fifteen hundred in one day alone. “In the meantime, many announcements have been made by the cabinet. It is always up to the other. The young people who are asos”, says Asscher.
On his initiative, the House was recalled from recess. “It was said: that must be an opposition deal. No! We have a huge problem if we do not get the virus under control,” said the PvdA member.
During the lunch break of the debate, Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health) gave a brief explanation of the press conference outside the meeting room. Regional measures will be taken for Amsterdam-Amstelland, Rotterdam-Rijnmond and Haaglanden. De Jonge couldn’t get more specific yet.
‘We can speak of a national housing crisis’
Many parties, both within the opposition and in the coalition, are calling for major changes, but the parliamentary elections in March 2021 are so close that this cabinet will no longer implement new plans.
Take, for example, the landlord levy, a crisis instrument from 2012 in which housing corporations must pay an amount to the state. It is generally assumed that this tax hampers the construction and sustainability of houses.
This cabinet has already announced that it will phase out the landlord levy so that there will be financial room to build. Jesse Klaver (GroenLinks) and Pieter Heerma (CDA), among others, called for urgent action. “We can speak of a national housing crisis,” said Heerma. Asscher and Marijnissen have pointed to the existing housing shortage for years.
There is now a majority of the House that wants to get rid of the measure.
‘Labor market must be fairer’
The labor market also came back regularly. The corona crisis has made it clear that employees with a temporary contract and the self-employed are the first to take the blows when the economic downturns.
“This underlines even more that the labor market must be fairer and that we must implement the recommendations from the Borstlap Committee”, said CDA member Heerma. In short, the Borstlap Committee is urging that flexible contracts (such as on-call and temporary contracts) should be less flexible and permanent contracts less permanent.
In the short term, Klaver and Asscher want a form of job guarantee, so that people in this crisis can at least still count on an income. This discussion will also be reflected in the election manifestos and later during the formation.
D66 and ChristenUnie already want to form
Speaking of formation, D66’er Jetten wanted to know whether the VVD would exclude the PVV as a government partner, should the liberals be in a position to form a coalition.
ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers in turn asked who PVV leader Geert Wilders will work with. “You make a promise to the voter: vote for me and I will change the Netherlands. That cannot be done in this country other than by working together”, said Segers. Wilders did not answer.
VVD party leader Klaas Dijkhoff thought it “gimmickThe election campaign has yet to begin. The voter is about that, “said Dijkhoff.
‘Something is only true if you are right’
PVV leader Geert Wilders kicked off the Political Reflections. Wilders, who had signed up for 35 minutes speaking time, saw after his contribution that he had been speaking for more than two hours.
The PVV leader made a particular point of his lawsuit that at the beginning of this month resulted in a conviction for group insult because of his statement about “fewer Moroccans” in 2014.
Wilders spoke of a political trial with biased judges and therefore calls the Netherlands “an intensely corrupt country”. This to the annoyance of many parties.
“Does it mean that we no longer have to listen to a judge?”, Klaver van Wilders wanted to know. “Today you are actually saying: the rule of law no longer exists for me.”
Jetten saw a pattern in Wilders’ input. “If a court decision does not suit him, then he starts talking about class justice.”
After all, Klaver said to the PVV leader: “In your eyes, something is only true if you are right.”