Kaag: formation ‘will not be easy’, informateur Koolmees will not return in the next cabinet

D66 minister Koolmees will not resign. During the formation, he lays down his duties: if the formation fails, he will resume his ministerial work. He will be replaced by VVD State Secretary Dennis Wiersma. Koolmees will not return in a new cabinet anyway. “He has no intention of returning to active politics,” says D66 leader Kaag about Koolmees, who is leading the negotiations for a new cabinet together with Johan Remkes (VVD). The two will give a first press conference on Wednesday morning. Then the first negotiations begin. A large majority in the House of Representatives supported a motion to appoint Remkes and Koolmees. VVD, D66, CDA, ChristenUnie, PvdA, GroenLinks, SGP, Volt, JA21, BBB, the Van Haga faction and the Den Haan faction were in favour.

Remkes advised at the end of last week to start negotiations about an ‘ordinary majority cabinet’ with VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie. Exactly the same four parties that are now in the outgoing cabinet. “It really is a new start,” emphasized VVD leader Rutte.

The other parties in the House try to question this ‘new start’ during the formation debate. Can the cabinet that resigned because of the allowance affair once again rule? “The same gang just continues,” says PVV leader Geert Wilders.

Sophie Hermans

Outgoing Prime Minister Rutte will be in Slovenia on Tuesday, where he will attend an EU summit. That is why his second, VVD party leader Sophie Hermans, takes the floor in the formation debate. She finds it justifiable that the current cabinet continues to govern. “On March 17, the voter spoke,” says Hermans. “There will now be four parties that have a majority. This also includes the further handling of the allowance affair. We are highly motivated to tackle the major problems facing this country.”

Hermans said that the VVD is ‘partly responsible’ for the slow formation. She feels ‘touched by the slumped confidence’ in politics. “I want to work hard to regain that trust,” said the VVD party leader.

Opposition parties are critical of the actions of D66 leader Kaag. For months she wanted to form a cabinet with VVD, CDA and the two left-wing parties. But last week she gave up her fight against Rutte and Hoekstra: she now accepts negotiations with the ChristenUnie, ‘in the national interest’.

At the start of her contribution, Kaag apologized for last week’s D66 gossip that informateur Remkes had had ‘one too many drinks’ and was therefore ‘confused’. A D66 spokesperson had told the press that, who withdrew his statements after they became known. Kaag: “I also say here: the words have been withdrawn immediately, and I think it is very justified. I wanted to formally mark this.” According to Wilders, the allegations against Remkes were ‘false and mean’. The PVV leader wonders whether Kaag and her second Rob Jetten have said anything about this to the spokesperson. “I acted immediately, internal discussions within D66 are up to D66,” was all Kaag wanted to say.

Summer Document

Kaag made it clear that the document in outline, which VVD and D66 wrote this summer, will form an important starting point for her party in the negotiations. The VVD said earlier that it now attaches less value to this.

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver asked VVD member Hermans what she thinks about the piece. “We worked hard on that document,” says Hermans. “It contains elements that VVD and D66 agree on. We would like to see this implemented in the coming years. But we work together with other parties in the cabinet. You are going to talk about that and we will have to make compromises about that.”

‘Backlog’ on medical-ethical

D66 member Kaag indicated that she wants to make ‘progress’ in a new cabinet in the field of medical-ethical subjects. According to her, there has been a ‘backlog’ in that area. “I think it is important that once a law is passed, it is implemented,” said Kaag. “That is the D66 bet.” This makes a clash with the ChristenUnie in the negotiations inevitable: Gert-Jan Segers (ChristenUnie) is strongly opposed to, for example, the completed life law of D66. “I’m going to talk about it, also about my vulnerability,” says Segers about the medical-ethical topics. “We’ll see if we get out.”

In the debate, informateur Remkes was unable to say how long it will take before a new cabinet is in place. “I haven’t been given the gift of looking at coffee grounds, but as far as I’m concerned as soon as possible,” said Remkes. “Commitment has been expressed for a new management style. A coalition agreement in outline is a corollary of this. I have every confidence in that.”

Earlier on Tuesday it became clear that VVD member Remkes and D66 minister Wouter Koolmees will be nominated as new informateurs in the debate. The House of Representatives must still approve a motion on Tuesday evening in which the duo will be designated. Chamber president Vera Bergkamp said she was “frustrated” that the names of the informants had been leaked before the debate.

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