Readers say: ‘What the coalition wants seems impossible to me’

the call of Fidelity submitting questions to ministerial candidates has led to an avalanche of responses. According to Jan Ploeg, there is something “bitter” left in that call, she sends an email to the editor. The Schoof cabinet will be on the stand on July 2, but first the incoming ministers will have to visit the House of Representatives for a sort of introductory meeting. This hearing, a new phenomenon in the Netherlands, is a good opportunity to consult citizens: what do they want to know?

According to Ploeg, this is a “very friendly request.” “But you’re trying to provoke bad questions.” He is disappointed with “his newspaper” of him. He explains his skepticism over the phone. Ploeg believes that the opposition parties want to “get a cheap figure” during interrogations. He is glad that “his” CDA of his is not involved.

Dozens of readers disagree with him. They submitted questions to the new Minister of the Interior, Judith Uitermark (‘When will we finally be able to vote digitally?’), to the future Minister of Asylum and Migration, Marjolein Faber (‘What are they going to do with asylum seekers who cannot go to Ter Apel because the asylum center is full?’) and to the incoming Secretary of State for Primary Education, Mariëtte Paul (‘Will school swimming return?’)

Jan Blaak hesitated for a moment. He works in the Treasury, where contact with the press is always carried out, in principle, through a spokesperson. He laughs: “I’m close to retiring, I think I can get away with it.” Blaak wants to know from the new Minister of Finance, Eelco Heijnen, when the tax legislation will be simplified. “Politicians have promised this for a long time, but it is becoming more and more complicated. Sometimes we barely understand it ourselves. This morning an income tax specialist told me that even he has a hard time understanding it all. Can we then expect citizens to understand it?” An additional concern, Blaak says, is that the new cabinet wants to significantly reduce the number of officials. “I don’t understand how we want to simplify the tax code with fewer people.”

Tim Kroes, who works at a primary school in Amstelveen, has a simple question for ministers at the Ministry of Education: “Do you still feel taken seriously?” Kroes points out that the word “teacher shortage” does not appear in the main agreement of PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB. “Politicians like to talk about this problem as if they were on the Titanic. But in the meantime they are not solving it.”

At his own school, where he teaches group 6, he is doing quite well in terms of staff, says Kroes. But he knows that some Amsterdam schools have not yet prepared training for the next school year. “And that is problematic.” Gaps are closed with substitute workers. Kroes: “The new minister Eppo Bruins has children. I wonder if they have always been taught by qualified teachers. If so, then you are in luck.”

Bram van Uden also stands in front of a class at a secondary school in Arnhem. He teaches mathematics classes, but next year he also teaches citizenship classes. And this brings up his question to Minister of Education Bruins: “If students ask during citizenship classes why parliamentarians and cabinet members themselves do not fully respect the rule of law, what would you advise me to answer?”

Over the phone, he explains that adults have to set a good example. “If I want my students to draw a straight line, I can’t draw a curve on the board. It’s that simple.” Van Uden refers to Marjolein Faber, who previously spoke of a “fake parliament” and adheres to the population theory. He also refers to BBB deputy Henk Vermeer, who believes that judges interfere too much into politics. “There are many other examples,” says Van Uden. “I will soon be asked difficult questions about this.”

On page 9 of the coalition agreement is an intriguing line from Mark Nikamp: “Accessibility of rural areas is improved by strengthening bus transportation between rural town centers.” He himself is a bus driver in the Deventer region. That’s why he asked the new Secretary of State for Public Transport, Chris Jansen: “Who should drive all those new routes?”

It’s not cynicism, explains Nikamp. It’s really curious. “Bus transportation is already suffering from a staff shortage.” Bus lines could be expanded, which costs extra money. Or run more buses, which also costs extra money. “What the coalition wants seems impossible to me,” says Nikamp. A possible solution is to use drivers from other countries, especially Eastern Europe. “So English will be the main language on the bus. But that doesn’t fit well with the coalition’s plan to restrict labor migration.”

In South Limburg, Mascha Vooijs works as a teacher in the field of “education for newcomers”. This means that she not only teaches Dutch to refugee children, but also to expatriates. “The workload is high, more money should be spent there anyway,” she says. But that’s not what her question is about. What she wants to know: “How do the Bruins Ministers of Education and Faber of Asylum plan to work together?” Vooijs says that she is very curious about it. She worries about what the government’s immigration plans mean for education. “I doubt this will benefit the most disadvantaged in this country.” She did remember that Bruins were previously active in the Christian Union. “That gives me a little hope.”

Before going on a walking holiday (he is retired), Michiel van der Molen sends an email to Fidelity: ‘Control of power is essential for our democracy. That is why I would like all the PVV ministers to ask me: do they think we have a false parliament? Do you think journalists are scumbags?

When prompted, he explains: “Geert Wilders avoids all questions and does not appear on any talk shows. His ministers cannot help but show his true face and take responsibility. If they don’t, he will be the ax to the root of democracy.” Van der Molen finds in all cases the answers to the news from the PVV members. “For me it is important that they do not become Wilders’ pawns.”

Ruud Lambregts has been retired for twelve years, but his heart is still in development work. He long worked for Oxfam Novib, an organization partly funded by the government. Lambregts read with horror in the coalition agreement that the parties want to cut 2.4 billion in development aid. What he wants to know from the new Minister Reinette Klever: “Don’t you think that development cooperation also contributes structurally to ultimately reducing migration to Europe and the Netherlands?”

Lambregts is convinced that the Netherlands is harming itself with these cuts. “We will have to attack the problems from the root. And that is in countries where there are conflicts.” Last week he was at a meeting on 75 years of development cooperation, where former minister Jan Pronk, 84, gave a “fiery speech” about the value of this aid. Lambregts: “It gave us new inspiration. And there we agreed: if in a year the Cabinet is still standing, we will all demonstrate in Malieveld. Let’s go to the barricades.”

Also read:

Will they really be audiences with the new ministers or will it be a puppet show?

In the coming days the House of Representatives will interview the 28 ministerial candidates of the new Schoof cabinet. But SP, CDA, CU and SGP do not participate in this “theater”.

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