After 271 days, the Dutch have a government

It has been nine long months since the last general election in the Netherlands, and this week, the Dutch finally got a new government. Once again, the two liberal parties are working together.

Mark Rutte, of the classical liberal VVD party, is Prime Minister for a fourth time after four parties finally agreed a deal on Monday (13th) night. The other parties in the coalition are the social liberal D66, the Christian Democrats, and the centre-right Christian Unity. This is the same make-up of the government from 2017-2021.

The news of the new coalition agreement was met with muted cheers – even from the leaders of the parties themselves. Rutte described it as a ‘good deal’, with Sigrid Kaag of the D66 saying, ‘it is a fine and balanced agreement’. Christian Unity leader, Gert Jan Segers said, ‘I am just glad we are done. It’s taken a long time’.

The caretaker government had been in place for 11 months since mass resignations in January following a child credit controversy led to the government falling. It hasn’t been the easiest time for the caretakers either, with rocketing covid-numbers across the Netherlands leading to lockdowns and riots in Dutch cities.

Despite the make-up of the coalition being more to the right of centre (minus the D66), the 50-page coalition accord is surprisingly progressive. Key points include building 100,000 new homes a year (with at least 66% being affordable), €35billion being set aside for action on climate change over the next decade, a rise in the minimum wage by 7.5%, and the government paying for 95% of childcare costs.

It’s unlikely that the coalition will have an easy ride, as they lack a majority in the upper chamber in the Hague. This means that the more controversial policies from the government may not pass into law. It will also be a tough time for Mark Rutte, who despite his nickname of ‘teflon’ is now looking very vulnerable from even within his government. Before signing the deal on Monday, party leaders including Sigrid Kaag, had called on him to resign.

Having forced the election due to controversy, the government will be looking to restore faith in Dutch politics, as well as leading the country out of the covid pandemic.

* Jonathan is a Lib Dem member in Bath. He studied European Politics at the University of Exeter and now works for a sustainability consultancy.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.
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2 Comments

  • richard charles went 19th Dec '21 - 7:51pm

    Not an advertisement for any proportional voting system, I fear

  • William Wallace 20th Dec '21 - 11:09am

    The government we have in the UK, which came into office on the basis of 43.5% of the vote in December 2019, has had an absurdly high turnover of ministers since then, has ditched several important promises in its manifesto, and is consumed with internal factions and disputes. Not a great advertisement for the UK model as an alternative…

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