Opposition wants Rutte to step down immediately; Hoekstra won’t lead CDA again

After the fall of his fourth Cabinet, outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte can expect another vote of no confidence, widely supported by the opposition. If the motion passes in the parliamentary debate on the Rutte IV Cabinet’s collapse today, Rutte won’t be able to stay on as caretaker Prime Minister. However, the motion will need support from one of the coalition parties for a majority, and it is highly doubtful whether they will take that step. Wopke Hoekstra will not lead the CDA, he said in an interview with the Telegraaf.

PvdA and GroenLinks told Nieuwsuur that they’d submit or support a motion of no confidence against Rutte. Opposition leader Geert Wilders also wants Rutte to leave as Prime Minister. “He must leave immediately,” the PVV leader tweeted.

As far as PvdA leader Attje Kuiken and GroenLInks leader Jesse Klaver are concerned, an administrative Prime Minister will replace Rutte until elections have been held and a new Cabinet has been sworn in. The interim Prime Minister must have distance from politics. “There are really suitable candidates,” Klaver said. Kuiken wants to remove “the political sting,” and “the political sting is now called Mark Rutte.”

Experts don’t think an administrative Prime Minister can be appointed just like that. “It doesn’t work like that,” said historian Bert van den Braak on Twitter. The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, will have to start a whole formation process with a scout, an informateur, and formation negotiations. Professor of Constitutional Law Wim Voermans agrees. An interim Prime Minister cannot simply start without a completely new interim Cabinet, he said. “Parachuting a new PM into a caretaker Cabinet is impossible in our system.”

Parties like the SP, PvdD, BBB, and smaller right-wing parties are also expected to support the motion. “Let this be the end of the Rutte era,” said PvdD leader Esther OUwehand when the Cabinet fell. SP leader Lilian Marijnissen wants a “Netherlands without Rutte.” BBB leader Caroline van der Plas confirmed her support for the motion in De Telegraaf.

The question is whether D66, CDA, or ChristenUnie will also support a motion. The latter party did clash with Rutte this week. Irreconcilable differences between mainly ChristenUnie and VVD led to the Cabinet’s fall. PvdA leader Kuiken also pointed to harsh words from the CDA about the Prime Minister’s position.

It is also unclear whether the SGP would support a motion of no confidence. The small conservative-Christian party is often loyal to the Cabinet and does not easily support a vote of no confidence.

The Tweede Kamer will debate all day on Monday about the Cabinet’s fall and resulting political crisis.

Hoekstra won’t lead CDA

Hoekstra told the Telegraaf that he made the decision not to step up as candidate leader of the CDA some time ago. He doesn’t think it obvious that his name will be on the electoral list for the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament. “That actually goes back to the conversation I had with you three years ago when I said that I feel more like an administrator than a professional politician. I have always felt an enormous commitment to serve the public good and therefore accepted it then. But at the core, I have not changed,” he said.

Hoekstra said that the criticism he received within the party did not play a role in his decision. “No way. You always get criticism as a party leader. And to be fair, in several cases, it was justified. At the same time, you shouldn’t let that drive you crazy. There are all kinds of young talents who can do it too. It is not that the party is leaderless now, like a few years ago. But you also have to make your own assessment, also with my wife, Liselot.”

He said he is thinking about his future and wants to finish his outgoing ministry. He declined to comment on what comes next. That’s not for now.”

Reporting by ANP

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