Tweede Kamer president Vera Bergkamp not returning to parliament after election

The President of the Tweede Kamer Vera Bergkamp will not return to the lower house of the Dutch parliament after the elections in November. She announced on Thursday that she will not be listed as a candidate for her party D66 for the upcoming elections.

“On July 26, I informed my party D66 that I would not be returning for office again. It was a privilege to be a Member of Parliament for more than 11 years, of which 2,5 years as President of the Tweede Kamer.” she wrote in a post on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter. In a two-page farewell letter posted on the social media platform, she wrote, “A new political phase is coming up. Therefore, I feel that now is the time for me to do something new.”

Bergkamp has been a member of the Tweede Kamer since 2012. In the 2021 elections, Bergkamp was the third on the list of D66 and received almost 30,000 preference votes. In April 2021, she was elected president of the Tweede Kamer, becoming the fourth woman in a row to hold the position. The D66 politician entered as a candidate at the last minute, beating out the incumbent, Khadija Arib (PvdA) and Martin Bosma (PVV), by a wide margin. Both Arib and Bosma were not happy with the result, alleging that the election was arranged by the VVD and D66 behind the scenes.

While Bergkamp was highly regarded as a Member of Parliament, she faced challenges as president. She was sometimes criticized for not being assertive enough during debates. Her struggles to maintain control during debates became increasingly apparent, especially as the tone of the debates became more confrontational.

Parties like Forum for Democracy often pushed boundaries during intense debates in the main hall. MPs from other parties frequently had to urge Bergkamp to intervene. She also held private discussions with party leaders about the rules of conduct in the Tweede Kamer and the limits of parliamentary debate.

Moreover, an investigation into misconduct allegations regarding her predecessor Khadija Arib when she was the Tweede Kamer president did not play out well. The complaints were submitted in anonymous letters to the Tweede Kamer. The executive board of the Tweede Kamer chaired by Vera Bergkamp decided to investigate the accusations, but the information leaked prematurely. Out of anger and frustration, Arib immediately resigned as a Member of Parliament. An investigation into the Arib affair is still ongoing.

As a Member of Parliament, Bergkamp was deeply involved in ethical and legal matters. She advocated for the legalization of soft drugs and the modernization of family law. She was known for effectively working behind the scenes.

The 52-year-old woman from Amsterdam has a Moroccan father and a Dutch mother. She is the first openly gay President of the Tweede Kamer. Before entering the Tweede Kamer in 2012, she served as the chairperson of the LGBTQ+ rights organization COC and was a director at the Social Insurance Bank. She described herself in a BNR interview by saying, “I am a lesbian, half-Moroccan, but also a woman, a person, an Amsterdammer and a global citizen.”

Reporting by ANP

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