Coronadebat in election time: campaign in the House of Representatives

With three weeks to go to the elections, debates on measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus are increasingly focused on the election campaign. In todays coronadebat, the parties themselves started talking about it.

Opposition parties such as SP, GroenLinks and PVV wondered aloud whether the moment when the cabinet comes to the simplifications does not have everything to do with the forthcoming elections.

The ferocity with which the parties entered the debate and criticized the alleviations – they do not go far enough or are, on the contrary, too risky – point to electoral fever.

Eye for the own constituency

Party leaders who can hardly campaign in the country because of the corona measures seize their opportunity in the Chambers debates to question demissionary Prime Minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte – lonely at the head of the polls – and to put their own ideas to the spotlight.

Everyone shows that they have an eye for what lives among people (or their supporters). For example, the PvdA advocates more support for small entrepreneurs, the PVV now wants to open the terraces and soon be able to celebrate Kings Day and Denk promotes the opening of the gyms.

A wide collection of parties. From D66, ChristenUnie, SP, GroenLinks and PvdA to the Party for the Animals, calls for more space for physical education at universities and colleges. The Christian Union wants โ€œFieldlab experimentsโ€ in churches, among others. And government parties VVD and CDA freely emphasize that the Cabinet should look at opening terraces in any case.

Pacifier and horse-trading

The opposition is tackling the cabinets choices hard. Green Left leader Klaver tweeted even before the debate that he was watching the leader Rutte at the press conference yesterday. Think-foreman Kuzu has the feeling that โ€œpacifier is being distributed to peopleโ€, and SP leader Marijnissen accuses Rutte of โ€œhorse-tradingโ€ with the measures.

โ€œ Is the electoral fever that prevails or they dont remember it anymoreโ€, Marijnissen wonders. PVV leader Wilders has that impression as well: โ€œLast week we had the toughest lockdown in the world and now Rutte acts as if we were getting some freedom again.โ€ Wilders finds this misleading and describes the alleviations as โ€œjust a few crumbsโ€. According to PVDA leader Ploumen โ€œrules randomnessโ€.

Crisis Manager Rutte

Quietly as always, crisis manager Rutte answers the Chamber. There is no further relaxation: what will be allowed again from next week is already โ€œvery excitingโ€. He points to the risk that the Cabinet will take with the partial reopening of secondary schools. Rutte believes that universities and colleges are able to organize coronaproof education, and would prefer to do so โ€œas we speakโ€. But it also leads to much more travel movements, with all the ensuing consequences.

According to him, the same applies to the terraces: if you open them now it has a โ€œsuctionโ€ effect. And it is necessary to extend the curfew until March 15, in order to facilitate the small easing of the liaison professions and secondary schools.

There is criticism of the Cabinets โ€œevening clock-turnโ€. โ€œThe Prime Minister first said that curfew was a rotten measure, which would be the first to be abolished,โ€ says CDAer Heerma. โ€œCommunication should be better on points.โ€

Having established that, a majority in the Chamber after a day of debate – in which everyone has defended their position – eventually accepts the extension of the curfew. The eases announced yesterday are also supported by a majority. After all, a majority of the parties want to show that they have an eye and understanding for the โ€œair and spaceโ€ that more and more people are so in need of.