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Rutte: ‘We all have a yellow vest on’

Prime Minister Mark Rutte understands the sympathy that the Dutch feel for the activists in France, who express their dissatisfaction about, among other things, the tax burden by wearing a yellow vest.

“We all have a yellow vest,” said the prime minister Friday after the Council of Ministers. “We all worry about developments around us.”

Rutte clearly understood that a small group of Dutch people adopted the symbol of the yellow vests from France, but added that everyone in the Netherlands is concerned about major issues such as climate change and the costs of the associated energy transition.

He also understands that the middle class in the Netherlands first has to see if they are going to notice something in the wallet of the recovery of the economy.

He added that the changes take time and emphasized that “not everything immediately succeeds”. He was referring, among other things, to the police officers and teachers who would like to see more money going to their sector. According to Rutte, the Cabinet is taking steps in that direction, but the expenditures that can be made must be taken into account.

The Prime Minister hopes to prevent major unrest such as in France by staying “in dialogue” with society. Riot, vandalism and even victims – as in France – do not expect Rutte in the Netherlands.

Ministry warns against demonstrations and roadblocks

A new demonstration of the ‘Yellow Hesjes’ is planned for Saturday in France. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs warns against demonstrations and roadblocks where violence can be used. Tourists must be alert and avoid places where demonstrations take place, is included in the travel advice.

The demonstrations of the ‘Yellow Hesjes’ got out of hand last weekend. The protests began as an action against the tax increase on fuel, but have degenerated into a sound against the government of French President Emmanuel Macron. On Saturday, 144 people were wounded in Paris and more than 400 people were arrested.

Macron wanted to increase taxes by 2019 to pursue a more sustainable policy. The French government has announced on Wednesday that it will postpone the planned taxes by one year, in order to meet the ‘Yellow Hesjes’.

Despite the government’s compensation, the demonstrators will protest on Saturday for the fourth weekend in a row. Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said the government is going to mobilize 89,000 security enforcers across the country. In Paris, some eight thousand enforcers will be deployed to prevent riots.

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After ‘rabid’ statements VVD D66 withdraws from development plan

D66 withdraws its hands from the VVD plan to invest 10 million euros in birth control in Africa. The reason for this is the “rabid” statements by VVD MP Wybren van Haga, who stated that contraception yields more “return” than investments in the fight against hunger, diseases and education.

D66 initially supported the coalition partner’s proposal, but Van Haga’s statements go too far to D66 MP Achraf Bouali. “Unacceptable”, according to the MP.

“D66 is in favor of extra investments in information and access to contraception, so that women can opt for contraception, get it easily and know how it works, but by no means at the expense of education, food or vaccinations.”

D66 now comes together with coalition partner CDA itself with a proposal to make 10 million extra available “for access to and education about contraception in developing countries”.

Van Haga describes the population growth in Africa as “catastrophic” where something has to be done. Deployment on contraception yields more return according to the VVD’er. “It’s awkward for people who do not get a school anymore, but you can only spend your money once,” he told De Telegraaf.
Minister Kaag previously expressed criticism

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag already criticized the statements of the VVD’er on Tuesday. “People’s lives should never be described in terms of efficiency”, she said in the radio program Spraakmakers.

Kaag emphasized that contraception has been part of the development cooperation policy of the Netherlands for years. “But just looking at limiting population growth is not enough if you disconnect it from things like education, work and combating climate change,” Kaag says.

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‘Nuance in burqa statements has been lost’ | Halsema

Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam thinks that the controversy based on her statements about the enforcement of the burqa ban is based on a misunderstanding. The nuance in her statements has not happened, she said on Wednesday during question time at the Amsterdam council meeting.

Halsema commented on her statements last Friday that caused indignation in national politics. She said that the enforcement of the ban on face-covering clothing will not be given priority. “It just does not fit with Amsterdam that we take people out of the tram because they carry the nikab”, says the mayor.

The statements led to indignation in the cabinet. Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren, State Secretary Barbara Visser (Defense) and State Secretary Raymond Knops (Home Affairs) all said that Amsterdam must comply with the law.

Knops called Halsema’s statements “inappropriate and premature” on Tuesday. The State Secretary thinks that Halsema, with her statements, suggests that the law does not apply to everyone and demanded that Halsema take back her words.

Halsema does not take words back

Halsema will not respond to this call, because according to her this statement is not correct. She explained in the council that she did say that Amsterdam had to comply with the law, but that she could set priorities in consultation with the police and the public prosecutor.

The mayor said that her city is struggling with major problems in the fight against crime. “Journalists are threatened, hand grenades are found for shops and restaurants and an innocent seventeen-year-old boy has recently been killed,” says Halsema. “The problems are big and numerous.”

Halsema said she had sent the transcript of her statements to the cabinet last Friday and remarked that secretary Knops, given his statements Tuesday, probably did not see it. A spokesman for the mayor said that Halsema had contact with members of the cabinet during the weekend.

Eric van der Burg, the chairman of the Amsterdam VVD who asked the mayor for clarification, is satisfied with the explanation. “Misunderstanding solved”, according to the liberal.

Rotterdam and Utrecht also do not prioritize enforcement

The Amsterdam mayor is not alone in her statements. Also Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb (Rotterdam) and Jan van Zanen (Utrecht) will not give enforcement priority. “We have something else on our mind,” Van Zanen says. Aboutaleb versus RTV Rijnmond: “Burqas are only a marginal phenomenon, and that determines the extent to which we maintain.”

In June of this year, the Senate adopted the Partial Prohibition Clothing Act. The prohibition applies to wearing burkas, nikabs, balaclavas and integral helmets in public transport, care, education and government buildings.

As argumentation for the law it is argued that the face-covering clothing can prevent communication and is inadmissible for reasons of safety.

Critics, including the Council of State, speak of symbol legislation. The council describes the prohibition as the consequence of objections specifically aimed at “Islamic face-covering clothing”.

The law is not yet in force. The Cabinet hopes to have the effect around 1 July 2019 at the latest.

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In summer 2019 Burgemeester Leeuwarden will resign

Ferd Crone (64) will stop as mayor of Leeuwarden next summer. He was nominated by his party, the PvdA, for place three on the list of candidates for the Senate.

“I experience this lecture as exceptionally honorable and I look forward to it, when the congress in mid-January also agrees, to return to The Hague”, says Crone.

The members of the Provincial States in the Netherlands will choose the new Senate next May. It is permissible under constitutional law to combine mayor with membership of the Senate, but Crone chooses to resign as a mayor in the summer of 2019.

Crone was a member of the House of Representatives on behalf of the PvdA from 1994 to 2007. In November 2007 he became mayor of the municipality of Leeuwarden.

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