The blue chair in the House of Representatives is for the newly elected chairman Vera Bergkamp (D66) not an unknown place. She has regularly chaired plenary meetings in recent years. Bergkamp is a member of the presidium, the executive committee of the House of Representatives, and was already one of the permanent replacements for her predecessor Khadija Arib of the PvdA.
Almost nine years ago, in September 2012, Bergkamp entered the House of Representatives. Before that, she was chair of the COC, the interest group for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, for four years, but she wanted to commit herself to “broader social”, Bergkamp writes on her personal page of the House of Representatives. “I am committed to personal freedom, you must be able to be visible who you are.”
Prohibition of homo-healing therapy
As a Member of Parliament, she campaigned for a scheme for surrogacy, multiple parenthood, a ban on discrimination for intersex and transgender people, the abolition of unnecessary gender registration and a ban on homo-healing therapy, according to a list of its initiatives that she posted on Facebook. But as a healthcare spokesperson, she also participated in the corona debates and made the marijuana law for the legalization of cannabis. The law is still in the Senate.
Bergkamp has a strong sense of duty and she got that from her father, she said in a statement interview in Het Parool. Her Moroccan father traveled to the Netherlands at the age of seventeen, after a stopover in Paris, and met her mother upon arrival at Schiphol. Her father, a plumbing salesman, was always on time. “It has to go crazy if I don’t want to arrive somewhere on time or even cancel.”
Her Moroccan last name was so difficult to spell and pronounce that at the age of 20 she took her mother’s last name “for practical reasons”, Bergkamp said in an interview at BNR radio. She hates labels. “I am a lesbian, semi-Moroccan, but also a woman, a person, an Amsterdammer and a world citizen.” Bergkamp does not have a double passport. She was surprised that she was on a list of MPs with an ethnic background. “I’m just Dutch. That’s my nationality,” she said in Het Parool.
Bergkamp thinks she has the good qualities to be the President of the Chamber. She studied organization and management at the Vrije Universiteit, worked as an organizational advisor, manager and director of human resources.
The House of Representatives is also a company, she knows all too well as a member of the presidium. Hundreds of civil servants work behind the scenes to facilitate political work. The House of Representatives is also on the eve of a large-scale move to another building due to the upcoming renovation of the Binnenhof.
The House of Representatives is faced with “major challenges”, Bergkamp wrote in her letter of application. There are now seventeen parties in the House of Representatives, the settlement of the benefits affair and other reports are on the agenda and the moving boxes must be packed. “And all this in an uncertain period, where covid has an impact on our lives and work.”
Bergkamp wants to ensure that this runs smoothly. “What I am good at, namely being a connecting leader, I want to put into practice.”