PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB do not compete with each other for votes.

PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB do not compete with each other for votes.

News & PoliticsJuly 10, 2024 06:00Modified on 10 Jul 24 at 06:59Author: BNR Website Editorial

The coalition parties PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB are noticeably divided in the House of Representatives, according to an analysis by BNR. This creates opportunities for the opposition and makes the work of ministers more difficult.

PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB do not compete with each other for votes.

The National Research Bureau analysed more than 130 approved motions submitted by the opposition since the introduction of the main lines agreement in May. The four government parties were markedly divided in their voting behaviour: they disagreed on two-thirds of the approved motions.

“Ministers will have to do their best with their proposals.”

Nicole van Vronhoven, Member of the National Security Council

Coalition votes against plans in outline agreement

In recent weeks, government factions have already voted down their plans three times. Ministers and state secretaries will soon have to push their own bills to get parliament to back their plans, but they have no guarantee that the bills will actually pass.

In the first weeks after the agreement is launched, the opposition regularly takes the opportunity to test the mutual loyalty of the Freedom Party, the Freedom and Democracy Party, the National Security Council and the BBB. For example, on the nitrogen file: Peter Grynwijs (CU) has put forward a proposal to prioritise legal companies before the return of the 130 km/h speed limit on the motorway. The PVV and BBB are against it, and the NSC and VVD vote in favour. The same voting pattern occurs in the proposal by GroenLinks-PvdA, which calls on Europe to call for the abolition of fossil fuel subsidies, as agreed in the agreement. Half of the coalition is against it.

The opposition sees an opportunity.

The cooperating parties take up space so as not to lose their political colour, as political scientist Marijn van der Velden, affiliated with Vrije University, sees it: “The four parties have already agreed on a little bit, and the agreement on the main lines is short. They agree on those topics. So not on the rest. This creates room to vote differently.” Opposition MP Greenwijs sees an opportunity during this cabinet period: “My focus is on the content, I want to get things done. If you want 76 votes for a proposal or an amendment, you need at least one of the coalition factions. So I like to take advantage of this division.

Coalition discipline in previous coalitions

It is a break from previous political cooperation. During Rutte-III, the VVD, CDA, D66 and CU met together every week to set the political line for the week in coalition consultations. During the restart in Rutte-IV, that weekly session was cancelled, but on key policy issues the coalition parties stuck together strongly and voted collectively against opposition proposals. The new cooperation between the PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB works differently, and there is no doubt about the discipline of the coalition. The PVV often finds the BBB on its side in votes: this is the case in about a quarter of split votes.

It is difficult to work with duality in practice.

Uncoordinated voting behavior is a typical example of dualism, where the government and the House of Representatives are allowed to make their own decisions. “It sounds nice, but it’s hard in reality. If your political colleagues next door don’t agree with your plan, it affects mutual trust,” says Van der Velden. Especially if a new problem arises that there are no hard-to-reach agreements in the agreement, the political scientist predicts that a political crisis is not far away.

Consultation, no hard agreements

“The current coalition is consulting with each other: ‘We do not intend to surprise each other or put each other in an awkward position,’” said Nicoleen van Vroenhoven (NSC) in response. The NSC wants the parties to give each other space, “We are four very different parties.” The agreements in the main and financial agreement are the basis for the MP.

This is also what her coalition partner Henk Vermeer of the BBB says. The PVV and VVD have not yet responded to BNR’s questions about their voting behaviour. The newly appointed ministers and state secretaries will develop the framework agreement into a government programme in the coming weeks. As for the National Security Council, it has not been agreed that these detailed plans can also directly depend on the support of the coalition. “Whether they gain a majority in the House of Representatives depends on the content, interpretation and presentation,” writes van Vroenhoven. “The ministers will really have to do their best with their proposals.”

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