VVD leader and demissionary Prime Minister Mark Rutte acknowledges that he has made mistakes that led to the crisis of confidence in politics The Hague. But should he become Prime Minister again, he will not “suddenly do all sorts of things differently”. That‘s what he said in Nieuwsuur.
Rutte was there to talk about his “radical ideas” about a different governance culture and his own role in it. Herman Tjeenk Willink also said in his final report as an informer that a stronger position for the House of Representatives and a different style of governance also demand “a different interpretation of the premiership”.
Looking back at ten years of premiership, Rutte often said that he had given too little room for debate within the cabinet. He often preferred rapid decision-making and a good atmosphere over discussion on “major social topics”.
“ Rutte acknowledges that mutually regulated has often choked the debate,” says political reporter Nynke de Zoeten. “And that he himself contributed to it.”
Rutte also admitted to having made “just a really big mistake” in the question of CDA MP Pieter Omtzigt. In his conversation with the explorers, Rutte had raised the position of Omtzigt, as was later apparent from the interview reports, while he denied it on the day itself.
The Chamber reacted furiously to the “lie”. In the debate on 1 April, a motion of no confidence against Rutte did not make it.
In Nieuwsuur Rutte repeated his reaction from then on: “I do not lie, I do not try to cover things up or take them off the table”. He was, as he said Monday evening, sincerely convinced that he had not talked about Omtzigt with the scouts.
‘Need to know details‘
He asks for understanding: “there’s a lot going by on my desk”. However, he called the crisis of confidence “my fault”. “It‘s my job as Prime Minister to make sure that when big things pass by, I know all the details.”
After the debate on 1 April, he therefore started to think about his style of governance. But he never doubted his position as a VVD leader. “I am the leader of the VVD, we have become by far the largest party, I received two million preferential votes. It would be weird if I said, “I’m getting on.”
Rutte says he will soon have a personal conversation with Pieter Omtzigt about his “anger”:
fact that Rutte does not leave makes the formation even more complicated. Some of the parties have indicated that they do not want to join Rutte in a coalition. Another part wants to consider this only when Rutte convinces them that he really wants a different, more open and transparent, governance style with a stronger position for the House of Representatives. The question is, can he do it with the plans he came up with on Monday night?
Among other things, he advocated a thinner coalition agreement in which not everything was laid down on every subject. Official documents must be released more quickly, more room for discussion in the Council of Ministers, and the group consultations on Monday must become less important. These are not new ideas, says De Sweeten. “There has been talk in The Hague for years, whether it really happens remains to wait and see.”
New ‘club’ between cabinet and room
Furthermore, Rutte wants that, in the case of major social agreements, the Court should always give a mandate on the main lines by means of a debate. “And that the cabinet is not going to negotiate in the polder and come to the Chamber with the results.”
And in order to improve the relationship between citizens and executive bodies, such as the Tax Administration and the UWV, these organisations and the regulators need to come up with a plan to ensure that “the human dimension is paramount,” Rutte said. “Things go wrong there often now, as with the childcare allowance.”
Rutte also argued for a “club between cabinet and chamber” that helps citizens if they have a problem and do not get out with executive organizations. “The government gets a more human face, and if things don‘t go well, that club also reports to the Chamber.”
“Rutte walked into his own trap.”
“ If all of this really happened, it’s pretty big steps,” says De Zoeten. “At the same time, much of what Rutte said has already come by in recent weeks.”
On Wednesday the Chamber is debating how to proceed with the cabinet formation. De Sweeten: “The trust problem had to be solved. I doubt that parties who did not want to cooperate with him will suddenly do so after this interview. Rutte walked into his own trap because he said he would come up with radical plans.”
Look back the whole interview below: