Prime Minister Schoof, PVV ministers survive no confidence votes during “circus” debate

THE HAGUE - Prime Minister Dick Schoof and his Cabinet survived their first “circus” of a parliamentary debate. Motions of no confidence filed against Schoof by DENK and PvdD and against PVV Ministers Reinette Klever and Marjolein Faber by GroenLinks-PvdA, D66, SP, and PvdD received no majority support. 

The debate made clear that the non-partisan Schoof was very much standing alone. He received fierce criticism from opposition parties, who wanted him to speak out clearly against past statements by PVV Ministers Klever, Faber, and Fleur Agema about the racist repopulation conspiracy theory for the former two and against headscarves for the latter two. He also got attacked by Geert Wilders. The leader of the PVV, the largest coalition party, wanted Schoof to be angrier about the racism accusations against PVV Ministers. 

But the biggest blow came from his own Cabinet. Some time after Schoof assured GL-PvdA MP Esmah Lahlah that it didn’t matter to him that she wore a headscarf - D66 leader Rob Jetten had confronted him about a past social media post by Minister Faber calling the MP a PvdA-headscarf - Minister Agema (Public Health) posted an old statement by Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema in which she spoke out against headscarves. Jetten demanded to know what the Cabinet actually stood for, leaving Schoof off balance. The debate had to be interrupted while Schoof discussed the matter with his Cabinet - a very exceptional move, according to NOS. It indicates that the Prime Minister also doesn’t know what vision his Cabinet has. 

“It is a circus, and it is not a serious Cabinet,” GroenLinks-PvdA leader Frans Timmermans said during the debate. Schoof’s authority has been undermined, according to the opposition parties. 

The Prime Minister said his Ministers won’t make social media posts during parliamentary debates again. More ground rules may be discussed during the Council of Ministers on Friday. Then, the Cabinet has the summer break to recover and prepare for their next round in parliament. “I think it took some getting used to, for the Tweede Kamer and for me,” Schoof calmly told the media after the debate.