General considerations: debate on the state budget, but above all the start of the campaign

Today and tomorrow, the House of Representatives and the Cabinet cross swords on the Cabinet‘s plans for next year: the General Political Considerations that traditionally follow on Prinsjesdag.

The only official item on the agenda: the national budget. But the times when it was all about that are long gone.

This year, the reflections both inside and outside The Hague are mainly seen as the start of the campaign for the elections to the House of Representatives next March. Political reporter Xander van der Wulp: The debate will be streamed live for two days and partly broadcast on television. Both coalition parties and opposition parties know that, so this is an excellent opportunity for them to bring themselves and their points of view to the attention.

The corona crisis and the associated uncertainties will run like a thread through the debate. The fact that it is becoming more and more complicated to make predictions about the future, people’s incomes and purchasing power pictures, everyone understands. These purchasing power pictures may turn out to be quite different a week later. Yet the parties are seizing the opportunity to scrutinise the choices made by the cabinet.

Corona measures and marriage Grapperhaus

The coronavirus measures and, for example, the shortage of tests will be addressed, says Van der Wulp. Furthermore, the left-wing parties (PvdA, GroenLinks, SP) will seize the opportunity to once again express their concerns about the low salaries in health care and the position of teachers

Parties such as the PVV and Forum for Democracy will take a broad view of refugee policy and also of the decision to allow migrants to leave the burned out Moria camp. The position of the constitutional state will also be discussed, thinks Van der Wulp. The course of events in the Wilders trial, the failure to observe the corona rules at the Grapperhaus wedding. And to this is added the fuss about the prosecutor‘s side activities in the Akwasi case

Profiling of coalition parties

Now that the elections are approaching, Van der Wulp expects that coalition parties, too, will come up with their own story a little more. The Moria situation and whether or not to receive migrants who have fled shows that making compromises is starting to irritate them too Van der Wulp expects ChristenUnie and D66 to come up with their own story in the areas of refugee policy and climate change, in which they want more far-reaching measures than the Cabinet has planned so far.

The CDA is coming back from views that the party previously supported. According to the Christian Democrats, the corona crisis has shown that there are limits to liberalisation and market forces. De Jonge said something about this in his speech last weekend. Back to more government interference, is the new story of the CDA.

And with it, all parties are moving towards the elections today and tomorrow, with almost all the leaders of the lists who are going to fight each other next year coming into action these days, with the exception of Kaag and De Jonge. Because of the coronavirus measures, the occupation in section K is limited. Kaag is not there. De Jonge is in the Chamber, but does not speak.

New plans

Seeing all those parties with their own wishes, a viewer can soon come to the conclusion that the political landscape is more fragmented than ever. Van der Wulp: It is. As a result, voters will soon have a lot of choice in the elections. One wonders what that will mean for the formation, if there are many – about the same size – middle parties. That would not make things any easier. On the other hand, the appreciation of the cabinet during the corona crisis is still high.

Returning to the budget: in the last year of this cabinet, Rutte – after all, a man who wants to get his affairs in order – says goodbye with a deficit of EUR 44 billion. The next cabinet starts with a public debt of EUR 500 billion. Admittedly, everyone will understand that in times of crisis, these choices were necessary, but political reporter Xander van der Wulp is still curious as to whether and how opposition parties will address this.

In the end, after two days of debate, the House will agree with most of the Cabinet’s plans. However, we will only know tomorrow evening what comments, adjustments or even completely new plans from the Chamber will be added.