NL: Left-wing parties want more climate, housing investment, Right-wing want more in Defense

THE HAGUE - Both the left-wing and and right-wing opposition parties will be pushing for more investments during the Algemene Politieke Beschouwing - the parliamentary debate on the national budget for next year. Left-wing parties want more money to tackle the climate crisis and housing shortage, among other things. The right wing wants less money for the climate and more for Defense, reports.

"The Netherlands was not eagerly waiting for this speech from the throne," SP leader Lilian Marijnissen said. "The formation is a mess, people should not expect anything from this caretaker cabinet. We have just heard the King thank the people who continued to work during the coronavirus crisis. I would then think a raise in minimum wage is appropriate." During the debate in the coming days, the SP will propose more investment in affordable housing, raising wages and abolishing the student loan system.

If these proposals get majority support in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, they must be implemented, Marijnissen said. "They must not sideline the Kamer. Then we'll argue for new elections."

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver and PvdA leader Lilianne Ploumen together said that a new cabinet must be formed quickly because tackling problems like "the climate crisis, the housing crisis and growing inequality" can't wait any longer. The last attempt to find a combination of parties to form a majority cabinet together collapsed because the VVD and CDA refused to work with both PvdA and GroenLinks, and the two left-wing parties are determined to rule together or not at all. Like the SP, the two parties will submit proposals for the budget in the coming days, likely along above mentioned themes.

The parties on the right end of the political spectrum also want more investment, but not in climate. SGP leader Kees van der Staaij wants more attention for defense and security. "Climate, even if the cabinet is a caretaker one, billions are being invested in it. A bit is being done in the field of defense and security, but it is not in proportion to what is needed. Look at the meager amounts that go to the armed forces, or judiciary. More needs to be done."

Joost Eerdmans of JA21 agrees. "Half of it is about sustainability and the climate. 7 billion will go to it. We think that is not proportionate".

PVV leader Geert Wilders repeated his call for new elections. "We have a lot of problems: housing shortage, in healthcare, with immigration and asylum. That requires a missionary cabinet."

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Kamer will debate the budget for next year. Normally, this is a policy rich document. But as the Rutte III cabinet is ruling in a caretaker capacity after it stepped down in the childcare allowance scandal in January, this budget is focused mainly on just keeping the country running. The only major investments announced were in problems that cannot wait any longer, according to the cabinet - the climate crisis, the housing shortage, and fighting organized crime.

Among the parties in the current Rutte III coalition, the VVD and CDA were positive about the budget. CDA parliamentarian Pieter Heerma said that "wise investments are made in housing, safety and climate. These are necessary steps in the right direction." According to him, the cabinet's caretaker status does not mean "the country will come to a complete standstill."

Sophie Hermans of the VVD said it is good that there are plans to deal with matters "that people are rightly concerned about."

The D66 was more non-committal. Parliamentarian Rob Jetten called the King's speech "a message with a lot of urgency". According to him, there is a "hidden message" that the cabinet needs to get to work. He said that the D66 will try to come up with good plans with majority support.

ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers said that the Rutte III cabinet cannot automatically count on support from his party. "Working together is under pressure. I feel responsible for the entire policy that the Kamer is now doing. There is no longer a coalition in the traditional sense of the word," he said. In a missionary cabinet, the coalition parties often align themselves to support cabinet plans. But the ChristenUnie plans to come up with its own proposals in the coming days.

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