On Wednesday morning, the three present themselves in plenary to their colleagues as president-candidate, answer questions and then the election begins. It is a secret ballot in which each Member of Parliament votes himself. This makes the result unpredictable. There is no group discipline, because it is after all uncontrollable who voted for whom.
Martin Bosma (56) will not win the battle. Although he is seen by friends and foes as the best technical chairman of debates, he will again have no chance: too many MPs do not want a PVV member as a billboard for the parliament.
Stronger House of Representatives
The choice will be between Arib and Bergkamp, between the known and something new. Both insist, just like Bosma, in their application letters on the information provided to the House by the government. They point to the childcare allowance affair, in which the cabinet provided objectionable information on questions from MPs Pieter Omtzigt (CDA), Renske Leijten (SP) and Farid Azarkan (Denk) in particular.
Everyone in the House, including the three candidate presidents, wants to strengthen the position of the House of Representatives. Bosma puts it most succinctly: ‘The Chamber again as counterpower. No longer as a lamb of the cabinet, but as a lion of dualism. Now more than ever. ‘ Arib writes it a bit more diplomatically in her letter of application. ‘There must be an end to a culture of restrained and minimalist information provision to the House of Representatives’. Bergkamp is fighting with the promise that she will ensure ‘a better information position for the House’, for ‘professionalising the organization’ and for more ‘structure and predictability’ in the House’s agenda.
Arib is appreciated by most MPs for the relaxed way in which she leads the parliamentary debates, although she sometimes allows them to meander widely. The coalition groups in particular also complain that Arib gives too much room to the many small opposition parties in debates. There is appreciation for the way in which she represents the House to the outside world, but inside rooms has also been grumbling for years that the official organization could be better. The soap around the upcoming renovation and temporary relocation is partly blamed on Arib’s lack of direction. Incidentally, that is not a sole responsibility, but one of the entire presidium, which also includes Bosma and Bergkamp.
Bergkamp has much less experience in chairing the plenary meeting. She led only 33 plenary debates. Bergkamp argues that D66 has never delivered a President of the House, while the PvdA is purveyor to the court of Arib.
Dual nationality or mixed background
In the polarized political climate, Bergkamp has another advantage over Arib. If Bosma drops out after one round of voting, the many votes on the radical right flank (PVV, FvD, JA21) will probably lean towards Bergkamp because there are always objections to Arib’s dual nationality. Arib is a child of Moroccan parents and came to the Netherlands at the age of 15, Bergkamp is the child of a Moroccan father and an indigenous Dutch mother, born and raised in Amsterdam. But she states that she only has one passport and one nationality. At the age of 20, she adopted her mother’s family name because her father’s last name was ‘complicated’ to pronounce and write.
Bergkamp does not profile herself at all with her semi-Moroccan background. As a former chair of the COC, she much prefers to do this as an advocate for the rights of lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people and as an advocate for the legalization of cannabis.
That could be decisive in the election. The PVV has been campaigning against dual nationality for years, even Dutch nationals with a second nationality want to take away Dutch citizenship and thus their right to vote. If Bergkamp gets the 28 right-wing votes, combined with the support of the 24 D66 members, she is well on the way to a majority.
Spicy then becomes the choice of the VVD. Although the vote is secret, both PVV leader Wilders and PvdA leader Ploumen thought they could detect a setup on Tuesday after D66 leader Kaag confessed in the Chamber that she had had a conversation with VVD leader Rutte about the chair election last weekend. She reported to Rutte that D66 was considering coming up with a candidate.
Wilders thinks this is suspicious, because Rutte is involved in an attempt to soften Kaag and to smooth out the cabinet formation. Was Kaag looking for VVD support for Bergkamp? “That stinks, Mrs. Kaag,” said Wilders. “You influence the procedure with this.”
He was supported by PvdA leader Ploumen, party member of Arib, who summed up the conversation between Rutte and Kaag: ‘So there has been contact about who will become chairman.
Kaag reacted as if stung by a wasp. ‘This is a very disappointing conclusion, Ms Ploumen. It is very bad what is happening here. ‘ She denied that she asked anything from the VVD. “I just mentioned that we might come up with a candidate and that I had no idea whether we have enough support.”
Rutte supported her passionately: ‘Ms Ploumen cannot do this, this is where innuendo is thrown into the House. There is no link between our conversation and the new President of the House. You could just accept that from us. That could be the start of normal administrative relationships in the Netherlands. ‘
Wilders was not convinced and spoke on Twitter about ‘horse-trading’ after the debate. Whether his dislike is greater than his dislike of Arib’s dual nationality can be concluded from the results on Wednesday.
Vera Alida Bergkamp
1971 born Amsterdam
1984-1989: VWO, Sint-Nicolaas lyceum, Amsterdam
1990-1994: personnel and labor, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
1994-1996: public administration / political science, Free University
1994-1998: management consultant
1999-2001: manager organization and management development at the CBR, Rijswijk
2001-2004: Deputy Director of CBR
2005-2008: Director of Support, Amsterdam Thuiszorg
2008-2012: Human Resource Director, Social Insurance Bank
2010 – 2012 Chairman COC, advocacy organization for lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people
2010-2012: councilor of the municipality of Amsterdam, city center district
2012-now: Member of Parliament for D66
Vera Bergkamp is married and has two daughters
Born 1964 Wormer
1985 VWO, 1985
1990 Doctorate Political Science (Public Administration), University of Amsterdam
1992 Master of Sociology (liberal studies), New School for Social Research, New York
1981 – 1999 journalist, including De Zaanlander, CNN, ABC News, RTL New York, NOS Journaal, Veronica Nieuwsradio, Wereldomroep
2000 – 2001 Manager, Cameo Newsbites,
2002 – 2003 Director, Dutch Radio Group (including operator of R&B station Colorful Radio)
2004 – 2006 Political secretary, Group Wilders
2006 – now a member of the House of Representatives for the PVV
Martin Bosma is married
1960 Born in Hedami (Morocco)
1975 Emigration to Rotterdam
1985 Graduated from the social academy in Amsterdam
1995 Doctorate sociology at the University of Amsterdam
1978-1983 Social worker
1982-1992 Active in the Moroccan Women’s Association of the Netherlands
1984-1987 Coordinator employment project migrant women 1988-1998 Policy officer at the municipality of Amsterdam
1998 – now Member of Parliament
2016 President of the House of Representatives
Arib is single and has three adult children