After the longest formation ever and almost a year after the fall of the previous cabinet, Rutte-IV took office today. For the 29 government members, it was a busy day with mostly ceremonial, but also some content here and there.
It started this morning with the most weighty part: the sworn in by the king. The officers were facing the head of state. In turn, they came forward to say the “so truly help me God almighty” or it “declare that and promise”.
One Secretary of State, the Friese Aukje de Vries, chose to use the second national language: “Dat ferklearje en ûnthjit ik”. Another exception was the new Minister of Finance Sigrid Kaag, who was present in the palace by TV screen due to a corona infection.
After the sworn, it was time for the ministers (minus Kaag) to take a picture with the king. The traditional plate photo is more than ever a storage copy due to the time frame captured in it. Because of the corona rules, ministers were not next to each other, but widely spread over the palace steps.
A klewang, a briefcase that is rammed through a TV and other striking moments today:
After the board, the ceremonial had not yet been done, because the brand new secretaries of state and ministers were also expected in their departments. There, the outgoing government sign for the transfer. This is accompanied by gifts over and over again, and occasionally a wink.
For example, divorcing VWS Minister Hugo de Jonge joked that he would not be able to transfer the ministry either. “I still thought: if I dont sign, huh…” De Jonge did, and that gave him a framed page from his successors Journal of Medicine.
“I searched in the issue of your birth month,” Ernst Kuipers addressed his predecessor. He had popped up a 1977 article about a cholera epidemic, which showed striking similarities to the current pandemic.
In other departments, the presents were more traditional. For example, the new Minister of Defence Kajsa Ollongren received a distinction flag and a klewang (the traditional sword of the Marechaussee).
And the countrys new treasurer Kaag got the key to the treasury through the TV screen from separating finance minister Wopke Hoekstra. “Were going to agree to you on his Star Treks, if I do it right.” Hoekstra did well, and a little later Kaag was glaring with the key in her hands. “Thanks Wopke.”
The only one who didnt have to report for the transfer was Mark Rutte. It didnt always seem likely over the past year, but he stays in his post. The political survivor was on the board for the fourth time as Prime Minister and as of today leads a cabinet with the same four parties as the last four years.
Cut cake for Rutte, such an sworn day, you might think. But that contradicted the not longest-serving Prime Minister after the first council of ministers of the new team at the end of the afternoon. “Its a new beginning again. I went to bed last night and found it exciting again.”
Rutte also addressed the very limited belief of voters in the incoming cabinet. About two-thirds of Dutch people have “not so much” or “none at all” confidence, according to a study by I&O Research. According to the Prime Minister, restoring trust is “a task and an obligation “and becomes “hard work” and “showing it above all”.
Today, all the content was also around the corner. For example, the Hague newcomers Minister Kuipers of Health and Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf of Education did not come to shine their light on corona. Even if its just because theres probably another coronapers conference on Friday.
Dijkgraaf, responsible for the currently closed higher education, said it would bring in the reopening “again very firmly” in the coming days. When asked, Kuipers said that he wants not only to look at health aspects, but also to the economic impact. “We have to bring that kind of facets.”
After the first council of ministers and subsequent interviews when coming out, another TV show was followed live from the Knights Hall in which the majority of ministers had the last performance today. Spearheads were mentioned and intentions were shared. “I think we need to deal with everything at once,” said Rutte, for example.
And education minister Dijkgraaf appeared willing to explain his first day. “This is an insane day, but the start of a great adventure.”