Hes happy to be back at work, but he thought it was a bit overwhelming this morning when he walked into the Chamber Building. Photographers, camera crews and journalists were waiting for him. “Normally, after burnout, you would start quietly, with half days. But this is difficult here,” says Pieter Omtzigt at his new office in the temporary House of Representatives.
He spent sixteen weeks at home. Meanwhile, he left his party, the CDA, and so he returns as a one-man group; the Group Omtzigt. In those sixteen weeks of sick leave, he has followed politics from the bank, including the faltering formation. “What I saw was little uplifting. That promised new governance culture doesnt really take off the ground yet.”
His main ambition is to restore the balance between government and citizens. In order to achieve that, Omtzigt wants to focus on legislation in the coming time. For example, he wants a constitutional amendment in order to test proposals against the Constitution. He also thinks of more stringent rules for former executives who are going to lobby for advocacy organizations and a new electoral system, with MPs being chosen more on the basis of their regional bonding.
Omtzigt does not want to wait for the cabinet, as far as Omtzigt is concerned, the Chamber has to take control of its own far more. “The House of Representatives is the highest body. And the cabinet does not voluntarily give up a piece of power and will not come up with such proposals as soon as possible.”
On his first day, Omtzigt immediately participates in the big debate about the evacuations from Kabul. His impression is that the cabinet was poorly prepared for the fall of the Afghan capital, causing evacuations to start late and people left behind. “I want to know what lessons have been learned from Srebrenica.” Then, according to Omtzigt, it turned out that you need to prepare for the worst-case scenario. “That doesnt seem to happen right now.”
2 minute talk time
Despite the more than 340,000 preferential votes Omtzigt received in the last Parliamentary elections, accounting for nearly five seats, he forms a division according to the rules of the House of Representatives. That means that he is only entitled to one employee and has a maximum of 2 minutes of speaking time in debates. He also gets a limited budget as a break-off. “The workload is crazy high, especially for a one-man group,” says Omtzigt. In order to keep it up, he has decided to say no to media requests much more often.
Omtzigt sat, with a little interruption, for the CDA in the House of Representatives since 2003. In the last election, he made a futile throw at the list pullership. Hugo de Jonge won tightly, but he later gave his place back to Wopke Hoekstra. According to Omtzigt, that position was promised to him.
In June, Omtzigt cancelled his CDA membership after his contribution to the evaluation of the election defeat was leaked. In it he lashed out fiercely to the party and his party mates
Omtzigt spoke in the Chamber today about the situation in Afghanistan: