Avinash, good morning. Yesterday, the House of Representatives discussed CDA Leader and Foreign Minister Wöpke Hoekstra’s remarks during the summer recess. The alliance survived the debate, surprise?
In order to prevent a cabinet crisis, the government condones Hoekstra’s statements, in which he suddenly turned against nitrogen-reduction targets. In his ministerial role, he supports the government’s plans to achieve nitrogen targets by 2030. On the other hand, as a party leader, he is decisive. It’s a strange build that has a limited shelf life.
How long can this situation continue?
For now, Johann Remix is consulting with stakeholders about these nitrogen targets. Cabinet is waiting for her advice. Until then, Hoekstra can maintain that streak.
Thus the stability of the alliance is maintained through pain and effort. The coalition partners may be surprised and angry, but they do not want the crisis to worsen.
So they put the initiative together with the CDA to determine how tense the situation is. If Remix says nitrogen targets should remain unchanged, Hoekstra should return disappointed supporters or put more pressure on coalition partners.
The final split at a time when the country is burdened with multiple crises, will be attributed to Hoekstra. This is not a good starting point for the CDA. Moreover, they are already doing poorly in the polls, so new elections are not an attractive prospect.
Is a ministerial crisis likely if Remix advises maintaining nitrogen targets?
It’s hard to guess. Pressure mounts, but neither do VVD and D66 benefit from new elections. The D66 will not be able to easily match previous electoral success and although VVD could become the largest again, potential alliance partners are limited. Except for CDA, there is no logical option on the right. It is impossible to judge using FvD, PVV are excluded and progressive centrist parties do not want to cooperate with JA21. Thus the VVD itself also benefits from the fact that the CDA is still in place.
Therefore, Rutte allows Hoekstra to seek greater rapprochement with its supporters, since the CDA is threatened by BoerenBurgerBeweging. Now that March’s provincial elections are approaching, it is important that the CDA not be too weak, or else the party must be careful not to perish in the Senate.
But that is of course not the intention, and the space Hoekstra grants is quickly reaching its limits. Hoekstra actually got a helping hand when Remkes was hired to lead discussions on nitrogen targets, and now he’s being taken off the wind once again.
Why is this situation unusual?
In the past, disagreements within the coalition were discussed behind the scenes, rather than in the media as Hoekstra did. Then, the coalition and the government could emerge as a united front. Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, that wasn’t the case. The Christian Democratic faction in the House had no intention of weakening Hoekstra’s words and Hoekstra himself also stuck to his statements, undermining the course of the Cabinet. It is strange, because the Cabinet must speak with one voice.
What does the opposition think of this government crisis?
Part of the House of Representatives, including the PVV, SP and BBB, would prefer to see the coalition dissolve itself today. Other opposition parties point out that the coalition bears the responsibility to run the country with low purchasing power, high energy prices, halting housing construction and continuing refugee chaos.
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