Published On: Tue, Oct 10th, 2017

Holland has a new Rutte cabinet with a very thin majority; most ambitious governing accord ever presented

THE HAGUE — Four parties in The Netherlands finally reached an agreement today and presented their governing accord for the next cabinet period under Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s leadership. The four leaders of VVD, CDA, D66 and the ChristenUnie (CU) addressed the press about what this agreement meant for each of their parties.

The governing accord is considered a highly detailed and extremely ambitious plan packed with measures that will cost enormous amounts ranging from millions to billions of euros. The extensive document consisting of 55 pages was handed over to the Chairlady of the Second Chamber, Khadija Arib, by Formateur Tjeenk Willink today.

During the press conference, VVD leader, Mark Rutte, focussed on measures in the plan that would increase the purchasing power of households by up to 1,5% over the coming years. Sybrand Buma (CDA) was satisfied with the compulsory social programmes that would be implemented for the youth. D66 leader, Alexander Pechtold, was happy that education would be see the biggest investments during the coming governing period. Finally, for Gert-Jan Segers (CU), the agreements made about new climate change measures with the focus on new clean energy, was what it took to get his party to join the thin majority coalition.

The newly formed coalition of VVD (33), CDA (19), D66 (19) and CU (5) took seven months to materialize and with just 76 seats, has a very thin majority. So thin that they will still need the support of the opposition on certain issues. The opposition so far does not seem too impressed with the new governing accord.

The most vocal opposition leader is Geert Wilders of the PVV party. His party won 20 seats in the last election. His main contention with the present governing accord was that he could not find the word ‘islam’ anywhere in the agreement.  Jesse Klavers of the Groenlinks party (14) bemoaned the fact that only the high income earners benefitted much more from the tax cuts than the lower income earners.

The measures contained in the new governing agreement deal with the topics of climate, security and purchasing power. In areas dealing with climate change, all coal mines in Holland will have to close down the coming years, all new cars must produce less exhaust and new homes built will no longer have a gasline connection, thereby reducing the overall CO2 output.

In the areas of security, the Ministry of Defense see their budget increased by 1,5 billion euros and the police force will see 267 million euros added to their budget. Increased purchasing power would be achieved by lowering taxes in two categories so that most people will pay less income tax.

Cause for concern, even during the negotiations when word got out, were the talks and agreements made to decrease tax deductions presently possible for mortgage holders. This meant that homeowners with a mortgage would end up paying more taxes and even more when they paid off their mortgages. The BTW (VAT) on goods and services will also see an increase in the lowest tax bracket from 6 to 9%.

What this new government will bring to the negotiations table with St. Maarten remains to be seen. A friend of St. Maarten is the D66 leader, Alexander Pechtold. It is expected that his party will get the portfolios pertaining to Kingdom Affairs. That means St. Maarten may get a minister who looks favorable on the island’s position within the Kingdom of The Netherlands.