Just another Tuesday in the Chamber. That means that you can first talk about a bag that has been pulled over the head of an underage asylum seeker, and that a little later there will be a party, with a ribbon, speeches and the entire family of Gert-Jan Segers from the ChristenUnie, because he is saying goodbye.
Argue and congratulate. In many, many forms.
Conny Helder, the VVD minister for long-term care and sport, is questioned by Fleur Agema. Because: there are hundreds of untreated people in the hospitals because there is no room in nursing homes.
PVV member Fleur Agema says ‘wrecking ball’ and ‘incredible rumble in the margins’. Conny Helder: ‘I wouldn’t use the words wrecking ball and rumbling in the margin.’
After a while of debating, Conny Helder decides to take a different approach. The ‘preference’ of the elderly, she says, is ‘that people can continue to live with their partner and their dog and their belongings and their lives’.
That’s true. People prefer to live with their partner, their dog, their belongings and their lives. But it’s a wonderful argument. People who have exhausted treatment spend too long in hospital because there are not enough nursing homes. Exhausted people do not spend too long in hospital because there are too few nursing homes because people prefer to live with their partner and their dog and their belongings.
Eric van der Burg, VVD State Secretary for Justice and Security, has been asked questions because children in closed asylum centers have received a blow, or a bag over their head, from employees as punishment, without the youth inspectorate knowing.
Eric van der Burg doesn’t think every bag you get over your head is just a bag, because it is a spit bag. You get that on your head if you spit at employees. And he doesn’t think every child is a child either. A 17-year-old, says Eric van der Burg, is a young person. And a 17-year-old, he also says, has already completed military service. In other words: a 17-year-old single asylum seeker is quite a guy, you can put a spit bag on his head. He ends with the old Dutch wisdom: ‘The best way to prevent a spit bag is not to spit.’
It’s party time right after Question Time. Gert-Jan Segers announced his departure a week and a half ago, and now he says goodbye. Nobody knows what he’s going to do, not even Segers himself, but his Twitter bio says: ‘On the way to my garden shed’. Segers’ social media are flooded with thanks from voters, to which he invariably responds with the prayer hand emoji. Finally we know where that otherwise so annoying emoji is appropriate: as a response from a Christian leader to thanks.
In Segers’ farewell letter he praises Farhad, who makes the cappuccinos in the Chamber, and he expresses the hope that the Netherlands is not heading for complete decline.
After that, the congratulatory row from hell arises. 149 MPs crowd around Segers. But Gert-Jan Segers has clearly been to countless weddings, funerals and parties. He greets every Member of Parliament in a cheerful manner, with just the right amount of mini-talk.
Women get three kisses, men a handshake. Nice and traditional.
That goes just as well – Carola Schouten gets three kisses, Segers’ successor Mirjam Bikker gets three kisses. But then it is Dilan Yesilgöz (VVD)’s turn, and she gives Segers a hug. The fence is off the dam. Sometimes it’s hugging. Then kiss again. Sometimes he gets a hug and one kiss. Sophie Hermans (VVD) gives a hug, three kisses and a bouquet. Jesse Klaver(GroenLinks): bro hug and love blow. Fleur Agema suddenly switches back to the firm handshake. Engrossed in a chess game on his phone, Thierry Baudet (FvD) lets a lot of people go ahead of the queue and once he arrives at Segers, he turns out to be one of those people who talks too close while shaking your hand persistently.
Gert-Jan Segers does not look or blush. The gazebo. He’s almost there. Praying hands.
Once a week, Aaf Brandt Corstius reports in his own way on a debate in political The Hague.