By walking away from the Chamber, Sigrid Kaag has made it even more difficult for himself

By walking away from the Chamber, Sigrid Kaag has made it even more difficult for himself
By walking away from the Chamber, Sigrid Kaag has made it even more difficult for himself

In one poll after the other, the Rutte cabinet has scored lower than ever in recent weeks. According to the research of I&O Research for NRC almost eighty percent of the Dutch have completely lost confidence in the cabinet, and Mark Rutte himself has received a 4.5 rating: never before has the hitherto unapproachable prime minister scored so low.

But Finance Minister and D66 leader Sigrid Kaag will have to endure even harder: her rating has fallen to a poor 4.1. The Prinsjesdag poll by EenVandaag even reported that the cabinet has dropped to 3.1, and that no more than a sad 16 percent of the Dutch have any confidence in Minister Kaag. “I didn’t read it,” was her response. ‘I know that I work in good faith. I have a difficult task, of course: Finance Minister in a de facto wartime. We do the best. And I don’t work for popularity, I work to do the right thing for the country, and I’m okay with that.’

That may be so, but previous finance ministers were invariably highly regarded, from Onno Ruding to Wim Kok, from Wouter Bos to Wopke Hoekstra. It doesn’t matter what they did: if they were responsible for hard budget cuts in times of crisis, they were smart, if they were spending a ton of money in the boom, they were the big benefactor. Apparently that’s how it works in this country of grocers: the custodian of the treasury is beyond doubt. Except for Sigrid Kaag, the first female finance minister, who is now responsible for constructing the largest purchasing power package in Dutch history.

burning torch

What didn’t help for Kaag’s popularity is the sometimes somewhat elitist, haughty tone that she unintentionally adopted from the start, such as her infamous remark in the back seat of the official car about the FvD voters: ‘Who are those people who vote for that?’ This established the image that, due to her long years as a diplomat abroad, she had little feeling for what was going on in the Netherlands. It was also not helpful that Kaag promised ‘new leadership’ during the elections and was subsequently forced, after a lengthy formation, to form a coalition with Mark Rutte ‘function elsewhere’. And what didn’t help at all lately was her invisibility in the summer months, while poverty in the Netherlands was spreading due to inflation and rising energy prices.

It is not very long ago that a man with a burning torch stood at Kaag’s door, after which she opened a book about the horrific name-calling and death threats.

In the House of Representatives, in the press and on social media, Kaag is now so unmercifully disliked that she can no longer do any good. If she smiles during the speech from the throne she doesn’t take people’s concerns seriously, if she doesn’t smile she is a cold technocrat. And meanwhile politicians like Geert Wilders rub salt in the wounds with devilish pleasure. Already in the first minutes of the General Political Reflections this week, the PVV leader burned loose: ‘And the golden broom, it will go to Mrs. Kaag this year. She is by far the most unreliable politician. Congratulations, madam, it’s great that you even flew past Rutte and De Jonge!’

I won’t be the only one who had to chuckle at Wilders’ comments. But as funny as the imagery of the witch on the broomstick may seem, he is not innocent. The same morning my eye fell on an article NRC about the plea of ​​D66 Roermond for rehabilitation for about 75 witches who were put to death there in the seventeenth century.

A call to rectify what happened four centuries ago seems to me to be mainly fashionable talk – more terrible things have happened in the distant past, and misogyny and sexism, whether conscious or not, cannot be eradicated with ahistorical symbolic politics. But in itself a little more attention for the witch hunts wouldn’t hurt, as historian Steije Hofhuis argues in the article, if only because of the parallels with the present. Because it is not very long ago that a man with a burning torch stood at Sigrid Kaag’s door, after which she opened a book about the horrific name-calling and death threats she has to deal with every day.

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distrust

It was therefore quite understandable that a limit had been reached for the minister when Thierry Baudet stated at the beginning of the evening during the General Reflections that St Antony’s College in Oxford, ‘where Sigrid Kaag studied’, would be nothing but a ‘ training institute for the secret service’ – which in turn would serve the ‘globalism’ detested by Baudet. Kaag indignantly left the Chamber, followed by the rest of the cabinet.

To Mark Rutte’s body language it could be seen that at first he wanted to remain seated, with an amused smile on his face, as if to say: let Baudet chat. That would have been tactical, because if the cabinet hadn’t stood up, probably wouldn’t have crowed at Baudet’s insinuating remarks. And it was not a strong image: a cabinet that polishes the record when a member of parliament says crazy things. Grit to the mill of the already mentioned growing crowd of people who already mistrust politics.

And so Sigrid Kaag, who in his own words wanted to preserve the limits of her integrity, ended up politically in an even more precarious position.

Moreover, Geert Wilders, the shrewd parliamentarian who knows the Rules of Procedure of the House of Representatives by heart, argued with the support of Nestor of the House Kees van der Staaij, that it is not up to the cabinet to end a debate, but to the Chamber. But by then the damage was already done.

And so Sigrid Kaag, who in his own words wanted to preserve the limits of her integrity, ended up politically in an even more precarious position.

The lesson of all this? Words are not innocent.

Tags: walking Chamber Sigrid Kaag difficult

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