The third Rutte Cabinet is stepping up. The cabinet is now being demissionary more than two months earlier than anticipated. What does that mean?
The demissionary status was already coming, because a cabinet always becomes demissionary when elections are held (this time mid-March). What are the consequences of demissionary status?
Current cases and sensitive topics
Demissionary means that the resignation has been filed, but the Cabinet is still in office. Ministers and state secretaries are still handling current affairs, but controversial or sensitive issues are left to the next cabinet.
What is then controversial is determined by the House of First and Second, in principle by a majority, but it is good practice to take into account the wishes of a considerable minority. Last time – after the 2017 elections – this resulted in a controversial list of 250 subjects.
Topics mentioned this time are Lelystad Airport, the introduction of the Environment Act and generally medical-ethical issues are also left alone. So there will be a list, but in the meantime the country must also be ruled. And that mainly comes down to fighting the coronacrisis.
“ Mentally, practically, de facto, the cabinet remains missionary in the fight against corona,” said Prime Minister Rutte earlier this week. He said he wanted to reassure the people who were wondering: “Yes, but is there still a cabinet in a moment?”
Vaccines and lockdown
The Prime Minister stressed that the coalition and the majority of the opposition agree that acute corona-related issues were not included in the prohibited list. Vaccines can still be purchased, lockdowns can be extended/aggravated, lighted/terminated and the same applies to economic support packages. As a result, the Sunday Catshuis talks, the press conferences on Tuesday and the coronadebatten on Wednesday will not just be a thing of the past.
Another consequence of the demissionary status is that coalition parties have to hold on to each other less firmly. This is always the case in the run-up to the elections, because parties are going to profile themselves more. But becoming demissionary means even more freedom to put forward ones own topics in the campaign.
In addition, it is not expected that the coalition partners will attack each other with everything they have, because there is a real chance that they will simply meet again at the formation table after the elections.
Out of hands
A (by) effect of a demissionary cabinet is that the House of Representatives is taken out of the hands of an instrument. The Chamber cannot send home a cabinet that has already filed its resignation, and can therefore no longer threaten it. What is still possible, by the way, is sending individual directors home.