No sealed coalition agreement, a different style of governance, restoration of trust: these are just a few themes that play an important role in the final report of Informer Tjeenk Willink. He handed over his report this morning to Chairman of Parliament Bergkamp.
The 79-year-old Tjeenk Willink spoke with all the group chairmen in the House of Representatives over the past few weeks. What is new is that the summaries of these talks have been made public. That had been stipulated in a motion at the beginning of this month, Chairman Wilders and Eardmans of JA21. Only Forum for Democracy and 50Plus voted against.
The main points of the final report of Tjeenk Willink:
1. Out of the deadlock
One of the assignments to Tjeenk Willink was to find out if there is enough trust between parties to “find a way out of the deadlock”. An impasse that, according to the informer, arose at the beginning of this month, after a motion of censure against VVD-Prime Minister Rutte was passed in the debate on position Omtzigt, function elsewhere.
According to Tjeenk Willink, the breach of trust is deep. The discussion reports show that, for example, Chairman of the Party for the Animals Group, Mr Ouwehand, is not in a positive mood as to whether mistrust can be removed. And at GroenLinks there is “something snapped” at that point. “GroenLinks doesnt see how that can be solved.”
Tjeenk Willink believes that, among other things, a common approach to major problems can contribute to the restoration of mutual trust. Most group chairmen emphasise the importance of such a joint approach, he says. It is a priority to deal with the consequences of the coronacrisis.
2. Dualism and trust
But that is not the only way to restore the damaged trust, according to the informer. There must be more dualism, in other words, a clearer separation between the cabinet and parliament.
Now those two are too much “cross-linked”, sees Tjeenk Willink. The fact that the auditor (the House of Representatives) depends on information from the audited (the Cabinet) “is at the expense of systematic monitoring of the implementation and the effects of policy and legislation on the citizen”.
The informer comes up with all kinds of proposals to unleash parliament and government and restore confidence, including that of citizens in the government. According to him, the government should act less as manager of a company “with the citizen as a customer and cost”.
Furthermore, Tjeenk Willink believes that more dualism and an open style of governance demand a different interpretation of the premiership. Thats what he talked to Mark Rutte about. “He has indicated that he is thinking about it and announced that he will bring his thoughts forward in the short term.”
3. No coalition agreement
The “cross-linking” between cabinet and Chamber continues, says Tjeenk Willink. In his view, long, detailed coalition agreements also contribute to this. On the one hand, the informer says that he can understand the need for such a comprehensive agreement, because it allows cabinets, for example, to secure a majority in the House of Representatives.
But that does not benefit parliamentary control and political debate, writes Tjeenk Willink. “Extensive weekly coalition consultations on Monday morning accentuate this cross-linking.”
Tjeenk Willink therefore proposes a different order in the continuation of this cabinet: not first think which parties want to work together, but start with the content. He proposes to take stock of what problems should be solved first and how that could be done.
“ On the basis of these debates, it will be clear which parties would like to contribute to the solutions to the identified problems and possibly to form a coalition.” The coalition agreement can then be limited to solutions on the main lines.
4. Who with whom?
Tjeenk Willink doesnt want to talk too much about the dolls yet. “In the coming phase of the formation, the question of “who with whom” is not expressly proposed,” he writes in his final report. However, in his discussions with the group chairmen, he did indeed discuss possible cooperation.
For example, the group chairmen of VVD, D66, CDA, SP, PvdA, GroenLinks, Volt, Denk and Bij1 do not want to cooperate with the PVV and Forum for Democracy. The captains of Volt, Denk and Bij1 also exclude JA21.
PVV, SP and Bij1 do not want to cooperate with VVD group chairman and current (demissionary) Prime Minister Rutte. The group chairmen of the Party for the Dieren, Denk and BBB do not believe that such cooperation with the VVD of Mark Rutte is credible. The bottom line is that most parties in the House of Representatives do not exclude Rutte as Prime Minister at this stage.