“Relevant signal,” Dutch PM says about broadly supported motion of no confidence

April 6, 2023  –THE HAGUE – The fact that virtually the entire opposition has lost confidence in the Cabinet is “a relevant signal,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte admitted. But after hours of debate on the results of the provincial elections last month, he still did not want to speculate on what it means for his coalition, which needs the support of opposition parties to get laws passed in the Senate. 

The left-wing bloc of GroenLInks and PvdA tabled the motion of no confidence. The two parties are usually essential pillars for the Cabinet in the Senate. It got support from BBB, PVV, PvdD, DENK, the Van Haga Groep, JA21, and independent MP Pieter Omtzigt – broad support from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. The parties that voted in favor together account for about 60 percent of the vote in the provincial elections. Also relevant is the support of BBB, the largest party in all provinces, as well as in the Senate. 

Last week, the CDA indicated that it wanted to renegotiate the nitrogen plans in the coalition agreement. The Christian Democrats can no longer live with 2030 as the deadline for the agreed 50 percent reduction in nitrogen emissions. But they do not want to have that conversation until it is clear which way things are going in the new provincial council. 

“De facto, this Cabinet has already fallen,” said GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver. According to him, the CDA is still artificially kept on board. Just before he submitted the motion of no confidence, he and PvdA leader Attje Kuiken made a final attempt to elicit a promise from Prime Minister Rutte that the Cabinet would provide clarity before the May holiday. But the Prime Minister said he could not promise that. 

Rutte himself does not think that GroenLinks/PvdA and BBB’s lost confidence will paralyze his Cabinet, even though the coalition will likely need those factions the most to get majorities in the Senate. He assumes their lack of confidence only concerns the nitrogen policy because there was a lack of clarity about it last week. According to the Prime Minister, that does not necessarily mean they won’t work with the coalition on other topics. 

Motions of no confidence rarely get so many votes in favor. The motion that received the most votes was submitted during the illustrious debate on 1 April 2021 on leaked notes from the Cabinet formation process. Rutte’s political life was hanging by a threat after 72 of the 150 MPs supported a motion of no confidence. 

Incidentally, motions of no confidence very rarely pass. The last time was in 1939 against the Colijn V Cabinet. Such motions are relatively common from parties like the PVV and SP, but much less from GroenLInks and PvdA. These parties have tended to take a constructive stance in recent years and have helped the coalition of VVD, CDA, D66, and ChristenUnie gain majorities in the Senate in numerous policies. 

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