Published On: Thu, May 16th, 2024

Nicolien van Vroonhoven new minister for kingdom relations

PHILIPSBURG – Na Ronald Plasterk, Raymond Knops and Alexandra van Huffelen the  Caribbean part of the Dutch kingdom gets a new minister at the post Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations: Nicolien van Vroonhoven-Kok. This appears from the list of candidates for the new Dutch government.

The four parties that are part of the new governing coalition – PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB – signed an agreement this week that will form the basis of a new governing accord. This agreement spends just one sentence on the Caribbean part of the kingdom: “The Netherlands considers the Caribbean part of the kingdom as valuable.”

In the past, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) once labeled Curacao as a bunch of gangsters, while other party members have suggested putting the islands up for sale on the internet, happily ignoring the fact that the destiny of St. Maarten is not in the hands of Dutch politicians but in the hands of the people who actually live on our island.

Based on the new agreement, the PVV has nothing more to say about the Caribbean part of the kingdom – and that is at least a piece of good news.

Traditionally, the party that wins the elections is also entitled to the post of prime minister, but the PVV and Geert Wilders have given up that claim. The most likely candidate for this post is now Ronald Plasterk, a former minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations and an outspoken atheist. If Plasterk gets the job, the new Dutch government will have at least some Caribbean experience.

The PVV in the meantime has had to drop quite some of the promises it made in its election program in 2023. The coalition partners do have an agreement about an extremely strict immigration policy, but there is for instance no mention of Wilders’ intention for a ban on islamic schools.

Another issue the PVV has had to drop is its election-promise to withdraw the apologies for the slavery history. Its wish to switch to a system of elected mayors also did not make it into the agreement: the system for appointing mayors remains unchanged.

The PVV also promised its voters that a life sentence would become a real life sentence. In other words: lifers would never get out of prison again. This seems to be a moot point, because courts will not impose a life sentence if there is no perspective whatsoever for a suspect.

The PVV furthermore wanted a binding referendum about a Nexit as a way to leave the European Union. The party also promised not to send a penny to the European Union anymore: “We like to work intensively together with other countries but not in a political union like the European Union.” Again, not a word about this issue in the agreement with the other coalition partners.

What will become of the PVV campaign-promise to lower the salaries for ministers, parliamentarians and members of the European parliament by 20 percent remains to be seen. There is no mention of it in the agreement. The same is true for the intention to end redundancy pay for politicians. The PVV promised its voters that politicians who lose their position should apply for unemployment benefits, just like any other employee.

Nicolien van Vroonhoven-Kok, who will deal with the Caribbean part of the kingdom, was in the past a member of parliament for the CDA, but in the 2023 elections she was the number two on the list of Pieter Omtzigt’s New Social Contract (NSC). She is a roman catholic who studied art and law at Leiden University and fiscal law at Amsterdam University. She entered the Dutch parliament for the first time in 2002 as the spokeswoman for fiscal affairs. She also dealt with culture-policy and starting entrepreneurs.

In 2017 Van Vroonhoven emigrated with her family to Melbourne, Australia where her husband had found a job. She returned to the Netherlands in 2022 and began working as the spokesperson for NSC-leader Pieter Omtzigt.

Van Vroonhoven married in 1999 and she has five children.