Cross-border behavior is a persistent problem in the House of Representatives. This has emerged from research into social safety at Utrecht University. Almost half of the respondents sometimes see it happen, while hardly anything is done with the report. “The atmosphere in the House of Representatives is pretty sick,” says political reporter Sophie van Leeuwen.
According to van Leeuwen, the problem mainly lies between civil servants and the leadership of the House of Representatives. ‘But also with the party employees and members of the House, who get a beating in the report. They really need to start behaving better.’
The 300-page report mentions yelling, harassment, political games, sexual text messages and discrimination. ‘But hardly anything is done with it, people who report this do not feel heard.’
A recent example is the political row in which former Chamber President Arib was accused of conducting a reign of terror. “Officials complained openly in the press, which exploded into a major political row with some defending Arib. Then the civil servants did not feel heard either.’
Self-centered and narcissistic
According to the report, the politicians in the House of Representatives are ‘selfish and narcissistic people’, says Van Leeuwen. ‘People who feel untouchable in the House of Representatives and in political The Hague.’ A report of intimidating behavior is often politically spun, says Van Leeuwen. ‘But in the end, politics is in power, including in the board of the House of Representatives. That is chaired by politicians.’ Reports are also often shoved under the carpet at various political groups.
The current President of the House, Vera Bergkamp, has announced the investigation in 2021. It is now up to her to come up with solutions. Van Leeuwen doubts whether that will work. ‘It remains a political game, a political arena. The work pressure is very high. She must improve the procedures and check what is done with the complaints.’
According to Van Leeuwen, the problem is deeply rooted and distrust is high. “I’ll have to see how quickly this will work.”