The government must function as an involved neighbor, but at the same time must keep its distance. That is what BBB leader Caroline van der Plas said in the annual HJ Schoo lecture. She advocates a ‘noaberstaat’ or ‘mienskipstaet’, based on the way people in Twente and Friesland would like to live together. With communities that, where possible, can make their own choices.
In the run-up to the elections, BBB, like many other parties, emphasizes social security for citizens. Van der Plas: “The end point is that everyone in this country can sit at home in the garden or behind the TV without any worries. In which there are no major worries about work, expensive groceries and fuel.”
The government must trust citizens and citizens must be able to trust the government, says Van der Plas. Everyone in the Netherlands should have access to facilities and opportunities, regardless of where they live. In recent years, investments have mainly been made in the Randstad conurbation, and too little in the region. Van der Plas calls it ‘institutional urbanism’, appealing to the commonly used term ‘institutional racism’.
She notes that the government has increasingly withdrawn, leaving people far too much at the mercy of the market. But on the other hand, the government must also be reluctant to interfere with citizens and businesses. Excessive bureaucracy has turned farmers into bookkeepers, she says.
Van der Plas acknowledges that there is a contradiction in her message. “It is both a problem that the government is withdrawing from the Netherlands, and that the same administrative state seems to be interfering in everything.”
According to her, the current government is mainly a “white-collar government”. The policy is made by highly educated people who live in their own bubble. If the policy fails, they don’t feel it, but the ordinary people do. “Government needs to stop being a big business.”
Gut feelings are also feelings.
According to Van der Plas, the Netherlands is in a “social crisis”, “a deep crisis of confidence between citizens and government”. Politicians are partly to blame for the polarization because they dismiss people with a different opinion as stupid right or wappie. She thinks it’s terrible that a popular TV program like Today Inside, with Johan Derksen, is referred to as drinking talk.
“Gut feelings are also feelings. We have the task of taking this seriously and making people feel seen and heard,” says Van der Plas.
They no longer listen to each other, she believes. “We speak, but we don’t talk. Social conversations no longer take place from a position of mutual trust, but of distrust.” It reminds her of the well-known Simon and Garfunkel song, The Sound of Silence. It’s also about people who don’t listen.
Van der Plas even sang the lines:
In addition to good accessibility for everyone, BBB wants a revaluation of the manufacturing industry. This should prevent us from becoming even more dependent on countries such as China and Russia for all kinds of products.
But if we impose climate plans that are too ambitious, those companies will die, thinks Van der Plas. “We need to look at the portability, feasibility and practicability of climate policy.”
She thinks politicians should be modest, honest and empathetic. To counteract polarization between parties, she proposes that political groups in the House of Representatives be randomly placed in the room by drawing lots. She believes this will promote cooperation. At present, the plenary hall is still divided according to the political spectrum from left to right.
Agreed in outline
If BBB is involved in the cabinet formation after November 22, Van der Plas wants “no sealed agreements”, but an agreement in outline. This ‘directive agreement’ is then assessed by the House of Representatives at least once a year. “Are we on the right track?” Practitioners and citizens are also involved in the policy, with a binding referendum.
The BBB leader calls on the press not to get carried away by spin doctors who want to turn the election into a prime ministerial election. “Mr. Timmermans thinks that’s very nice. But it’s just total nonsense.” The GroenLinks/PvdA leader is elected as a Member of Parliament. “Nothing more and certainly nothing less”, emphasizes Van der Plas.
Incidentally, BBB also presented an official prime ministerial candidate itself last week: Mona Keijzer (ex-CDA). She becomes number 2 on the list. Van der Plas has already said that she will remain in the House of Representatives if her party becomes the largest.
- BBB puts forward Mona Keijzer as prime ministerial candidate
- BBB converts election win into board membership, but ‘no peasant revolution’