The members of the Christian Union look back critically on the participation in the current, now demissionary, Cabinet Rutte III. This is evidenced by a poll by Ipsos commissioned by Nieuwsuur.
Of those respondents who say they are going to vote for the Christian Union (CU) in the elections, 39 percent say they agree (fully) with the statement that the party has achieved too little of its own ideals. Only fifteen percent disagree with that. The rest of them dont know or theyre neutral.
Hold on to principles
Yet leader Gert-Jan Segers certainly does not rule out a new government participation, he says in Nieuwsuur. “If we are called upon to take responsibility, and we can live up to ideals, I would like to take a ride like that again.”
His constituents are divided on whether he should try to rule again after the elections. Nearly half (46 percent) opted in the survey that CU “should stick to its own principles and points of view, even if that means that they may not be able to participate”.
A slightly smaller group (38 percent) opts for the other thesis: it is important to participate in a subsequent government “even if that means that the party may have to give up some principles and positions”. The rest does not make a choice between the two options.
For the new government, only nine percent of CU voters call D66 as a party that should be in it. The current coalition colleagues CDA (65 percent) and VVD (39 percent) are much more popular. This is while CU and D66 on many large cases, such as foreign policy and climate, worked well together and formed a front against the other government parties. In fact, they collided with medical ethics.
Agreements on refugees hardest.
What is striking is that the CU constituency is torn apart by the refugee file. 37% think that the cabinet has been too strict in accepting refugees in recent years, and 32% disagree with that. CU voters are therefore relatively critical: of all voters, only 16% say that the Cabinet has been too harsh.
Segers considers that the agreements on the reception of refugees are the most difficult he had to make. But he also says that if no agreements had been made at all, and a more “harsh” policy had been the result, he would also have been partly responsible for this:
CU voters indirectly also criticise their own minister and Deputy Prime Minister Carola Schouten (Agriculture). Only ten percent believe that the current cabinet has been good for the farmers, similar to the opinion of the whole group of respondents.
Farmer Gijsbert de Rijk has been voting for the Christian Union for years, but now has doubts. “With Carola, we had our hopes very high, and we are very disappointed.”
He wonders how Segers intends to regain the trust of the farmers. The Christian Union looks like it wants to do a lot for farmers, but the proposed plans do not seem realistic.
For example, through a new fund, the party wants to reward farmers who are more sustainable, but according to the Planbureau for the Environment, this may amount to illegal state aid. Segers contests that. “We are going to talk about this with the PBL. Such a fund is very needed to make the change for farmers who want it.”
CU wants to keep everyone friends
The Christian Union wants to look good for the environment and good for the farmers. But keeping everyone friends is at the expense of transparency, argues a critical part of the constituency. For example, in the Stemwijzer, CU says that it is neutral in relation to new restrictive measures for farming. But the pass-on shows that it does come up with new restrictions in order to achieve green objectives.
For example, CU wants to oblige farmers to drive all manure on their own land. This means that some farmers have to reduce their livestock or buy additional land.
There is another Christian Union intention that little has come about: to improve the position of money-earners. In 2016, Segers called Prime Minister Mark Rutte “an enemy of families”. He reproined him that families with one breadwinner “pay six times as much tax as two-earners”. That was indeed the case in extreme cases. Also in average, earners pay more tax, among other things because workers receive a fixed tax discount. Families with two workers get that discount twice.
When Segers joined the cabinet, it was agreed in the coalition agreement that income measures should ensure “balance between one and two earners”.
That didnt work out. Singearners now pay up to seven times as much tax as two-earners, the CU itself writes in the Voice Guide. Experts let Newshour know that the gapbetween average one- and two-earners has indeed grown further during this cabinet.
Segers acknowledges this, but says that the gap would have been even greater if “we had not intervened” by, for example, increasing the child budget.