13 December 2021, by Victoria Séveno
A whopping nine months after the general election in March, Mark Rutte and the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) have reached an agreement for the next coalition with D66, Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), and ChristenUnie (CU).
VVD, D66, CDA and CU reach agreement for next government
Germany may have taken only a few weeks to form its government, but things moved quite a lot slower here in the Netherlands. After the general election in March saw D66’s Sigrid Kaag and VVD’s Mark Rutte walk away as the big winners, the long process of establishing a new government began.
Various developments over the past few months – including a scandal that saw Rutte narrowly survive a vote of no confidence in the House of Representatives – made it difficult for Kaag and Rutte to reach an agreement about which parties would make up the next government.
In the end, after 271 days of discussions and negotiations, the two largest parties – VVD and D66 – have agreed to go into government with CDA and CU. This marks the longest cabinet formation in Dutch history, breaking the record of four years ago when the same parties took 225 days to reach an agreement. The Netherlands has been without an official government for 11 months, after Rutte III resigned in January as a result of the toeslagenaffaire.
While the four coalition parties remain the same, the government will see a significant ministerial reshuffle. Back in November, Prime Minister Mark Rutte made it clear that the new cabinet will have a “different look” and a “new impetus.”
Rutte IV: Same parties, but not the same cabinet
The Prime Minister now has time to put together the Rutte IV cabinet, but sources have confirmed he is aiming for half of the ministerial positions to be occupied by women. In total, there are expected to be 20 ministers – eight for the VVD, six for D66, four for CDA, and two for CU – and 10 state secretaries.
The final details will be hammered out at a meeting on Monday evening, before the agreement is presented to and discussed by various political groups on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it will be officially presented to the general public and the House of Representatives.
Some of the agreements have already been leaked, including the plan for cheaper (or even free) childcare. the amendment of the student loan system, and the introduction of so-called road pricing (rekeningrijden). Furthermore, the controversial gap in salaries for teachers in primary and secondary education will also come to an end. It is largely believed that Hugo de Jonge will not stay on as Health Minister.