SP member Leijten who exposed childcare benefits scandal leaves the Tweede Kamer after 17 years

SP member of parliament Renske Leijten is leaving the Tweede Kamer next week after seventeen years, according to her party. In her own words, Leijten feels it is “time to step out of the bubble in The Hague and engage with our democracy differently.”

Leijten did not disclose what the next steps in her political career would be, however, she will continue to be active for the SP. “It’s time to go back to real society and organize people there,” she said about her future.

Leijten is one of the most visible SP deputies. Among other things, she played a key role in exposing the childcare benefits scandal. Together with former CDA MP Pieter Omtzigt, she uncovered the affair and then also campaigned for adequate compensation for the victims.

In the childcare benefits scandal, thousands of parents were falsely accused of being fraudsters by the Tax Authority, based on their ethnicity, and had to repay their child benefits. The parents were ordered to repay the allowances they received, which left many families in serious financial trouble.

Leijten is still unhappy with the Cabinet’s handling of the affair. “It is completely incomprehensible how the government – with the support of a majority in parliament – is handling the clarification of this scandal,” she said.

“It was very nice to fight the battle together,” Omtzigt said in a reaction. “Because without her involvement, the benefits scandal would not have surfaced the way it did, and many people would still be in the dark.” The chamber will “greatly miss” her tenacity and persistent questioning, he stated.

According to political reporter Roel Schreinemachers, Leijten “never made a secret of the fact that it frustrated her enormously that the government still often withholds information or only provides it after much insistence, and thus complicates parliament’s control task. She never gave up fighting against it. She was therefore really a thorn in the side of power. And there will certainly be politicians in The Hague who will not miss her. But as a member of parliament who gave parliament teeth, she will surely be missed in the Tweede Kamer,” he told RTL Nieuws.

SP leader Lilian Marijnissen said she was “incredibly grateful” to Leijten for her years as a member of parliament. “Renske is exactly what politics in The Hague often lacks. A real voice of the people always engaged and inspired and approachable to everyone. Renske shows how to be active in parliament without becoming a parliamentarian.”

Leijten will officially say goodbye to the Tweede Kamer on Tuesday. Her successor, Nicole Temmink, will be introduced as a member of parliament a day later.

Reporting by ANP and NL Times

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