The Dutch parliament’s bad day (Or: Bad week?)

Let’s see… last week was the 2021 Dutch elections. After that, talks started to form the government. Since there are so many parties in the Netherlands, you usually need more than one (or two or three) to get a majority in the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives).

The two largest parties, VVD and D66, appointed one person each to speak with the remaining parties to see which party would be the best fit with the largest two parties. Fun fact: the word for this person is verkenner, which literally translates to “scout”. So good so far.

On Sunday the Junior economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer tested positive for corona (dutchnews.nl). At the time the cabinet was not required to go into quarantine because there was enough distance between the members. However they were strongly advised to get tested after 5 days.

This morning one of the scouts, the D66 home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren, tested positive for corona just before she was supposed to have a meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) and Sigrid Kaag (D66) regarding the progress they had made on the initial cabinet formation talks. However, right before the meeting she heard that she had tested positive for corona so she immediately left to go into quarantine.

However, in her haste to leave she accidentally showed her notes to the reporters outside:

Among other things, the notes talk about a minister who was critical of the outgoing cabinet, suggesting he should seek another position. It also talks the parties on the left acting independently of each other versus trying to band together. Within hours both of the verkenners resigned their roles and new verkenners were appointed (dutchnews.nl).

Questions also started to pop up about why the cabinet was still meeting in person and not holding more meetings digitally due to the positive test result over the weekend. Technically the cabinet is exempt from any advice to work from home, but now cabinet meetings will move online for the time being to reduce the risk of getting infected (nltimes.nl).

Throw in a bomb threat at the Binnenhof (Dutch parliament) just after 17:00 today and there you go – one very long week (or at least day) for the Dutch government.

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