0689-Corona virus & Politicians

Confidence in Prime Minister Rutte and his corona approach is declining.

Fewer people have confidence in Prime Minister Rutte and his approach to fighting the corona virus. His party, the VVD, has also steadily lost seats in the past two months. These are the first cracks in Rutte’s cast-iron reputation for months. This is evident from research by EenVandaag and the new seat survey by Ipsos and EenVandaag. Since the corona crisis, Rutte’s confidence has risen to rare heights. In the midst of the first wave of the corona crisis, 75 percent stood behind him as prime minister, where previously up to 40 percent supported him.

Lowest confidence in months
But the moment the number of corona infections has grown again for a long time, doubts about him also grow. Last month, at the end of June, 71 percent still thought he was doing well as Prime Minister of the Netherlands. That has now dropped to 64 percent. While a majority still supports him, that figure hasn’t been that low in months. This is partly due to the dissatisfaction with the EU agreement concluded last week, where hard-hit countries are being helped financially by the EU. Despite praise for Rutte’s critical attitude during the negotiations, most are not satisfied with the outcome. But the most frequently cited reason for the decline in confidence is the invisibility of the prime minister now that the corona virus has recovered in recent weeks. Many people are waiting for reassurance or new measures from the Prime Minister. Someone who has lost confidence says in the study: “As a manager of the corona crisis, he did well, but at this stage he leaves it at that.”

Coming back from vacation?
Both Prime Minister Rutte and Minister De Jonge, of Health, have a few weeks of vacation. Although many people (66 percent) believe that this should be possible after the intensive first half of the year, there is still discomfort with a large group. 43 percent believe that with the rising number of corona infections, at least one of them should return. “Of course I want to give them their holidays, but if the situation changes quickly, I still think they should give another press conference themselves. I think that they can properly indicate the severity of the crisis,” said one respondent. And another: “I think Grapperhaus is not doing as well as a straggler. De Jonge and Rutte should have coordinated their holidays better.” Half (51 percent) believe that Rutte and De Jonge should continue their holiday for the time being.

Support De Jonge is also declining
With declining confidence in Rutte, support for the government’s approach to the corona virus has also declined considerably, from 69 percent at the end of June to 59 percent now. This brings the share of people who support government action to the level of mid-March. Then the number of corona infections in the Netherlands also rose rapidly. Not only Prime Minister Rutte loses credit with the citizen. According to fewer people, De Jonge, Minister of Health, is also doing well. Last month was 66 percent behind his performance; now 55 percent of that remains. He is also accused of being little visible at the moment. In addition, some are increasingly under the impression that he lacks knowledge and plays a role in compensating for that lack of knowledge.

Steady loss to the VVD
The waning confidence in the prime minister is also not good for his party, the VVD. In two months, the party loses five seats and now comes to 39 seats, according to the new seat poll of Ipsos and EenVandaag. Rutte’s party thus seems to have passed the peak that it had built up since the corona crisis. The VVD rose no less than 17 seats in three months, with 44 seats in May as the high point. In recent months, the VVD has won voters from all kinds of different parties and it is now losing those seats again. However, the VVD remains by far the largest party. The distance to the second party, the CDA, is currently 22 seats. There is no question of a ‘De Jonge effect’ at that party this month. With 17 seats, the CDA remains the same size as a month ago.

0684-Corona virus

Mayors are puzzled about how to prevent people from becoming infected with the corona virus at home. 342 cases were identified today, nearly 100 more than yesterday. Many infections take place behind the front door: exactly the place where mayors cannot maintain. “That the corona law does not give us that possibility is a mistake.”
A somewhat mysterious sentence was that Nijmegen mayor Hubert Bruls dropped out during the press conference of the Security Council on Wednesday. It was about private infections. “We cannot intervene at home. We will continue to investigate whether there is something we can do about it.”
Bruls stood there as chairman of the deliberation, in which the 25 Dutch security regions are gathered, and thus actually spoke on behalf of the law enforcement officers of our country. Did he advocate surveillance and enforcement behind the front door here? In an explanation, Bruls also stated that new rules can “infringe on people’s freedom.”
A day later, he says – via WhatsApp – not exactly what he means. In his view, should parties in people’s homes be banned or ended? Bruls repeats that things have to be “sorted out”. In conversation with Radio 1, he reports that fundamental rights in the Netherlands are “very rightly” protected, and that they should not be experimented with. “But my greatest concern is with infections in the private sphere. There is a risk that because things go wrong more often, you will have to take stricter measures again in public.”

Shared care
With this last observation, Bruls expresses a very widely shared concern among the mayors present at the Security Council, according to a tour of this newspaper. On the one hand, they are required to control the distribution of corona within their regions. On the other hand, they also know the figures from RIVM. This shows that by far the most infections (54.5 percent) occur at home, followed by the further family circle (19 percent). And exactly there they cannot do much. For comparison: in the catering industry, a place where enforcers can play a role, according to the source and contact research, only 4.8 percent of recent infections take place. This is a matter of concern, especially now that the number of infections is increasing. On Thursday, a higher number of infections was announced again: 342. That was almost 100 more than Wednesday. Liesbeth Spies, Mayor of Alphen aan den Rijn: ,,We now see that the biggest fires arise in the home situation, but we also know that you do not have any perseverance there (intervening or making decisions in the event of deadlocks or stagnation in decision-making or work processes, red. .). Then it is not so strange that you think whether you can achieve more behind that front door, without immediately entering the constitutionally guaranteed autonomy of privacy.”

Corona law
The question is what you can do. This spring, the proposal for the corona law of Minister De Jonge was already considerably amended, after much criticism was raised about the possibilities that the police would have to check in people’s homes. “The safe distance standard and other (behavioral) rules do not apply to situations in which house law is at stake,” the legal text now states. As a result, mayors must continue to enforce with their hands behind their backs, especially in the places where things most often go wrong. That is “a mistake”, says Mark Boumans, Mayor of Doetinchem. ,, I regularly walk through the city, and then you just see and hear that more and more parties are being held. And I’m pretty sure that at 90 percent, the corona rules are not followed. But there is nothing we can do. Yes, we can ring the doorbell. But if we are not let in, we are powerless.”
According to Boumans, there should be more administrative options. “For example, the right to look inside people or to be able to end a party. Normally I’m hesitant about things like that, but now you just see it go wrong. The alternative is that we all have to enter an intelligent lockdown again. I don’t think anyone wants that. Then take specific action.”
An important condition for Boumans is that there will first be a public campaign, in which people are once again made aware of the dangers of meetings at home. Theo Weterings, Mayor of Tilburg, is also on that line. He believes that alternatives to enforcement should be sought. “I don’t see it happening anytime soon that we, as mayors, are going to tamper with people’s fundamental rights. So we have to think about how we can influence the situation in people’s homes. ”

0670-Özcan Akyol – column

Our corona minister Hugo de Jonge is not currently experiencing his best days. Last weekend I read with some surprise in an interview that officials from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport had put pressure on our national pet intensivist Diederik Gommers to agree during an app debate that 1600 IC beds would be arranged. Euphemistically, that did not radiate so well on our minister, who thereby carried away an unsuspecting doctor in his own political urge to survive. We are now all looking at the internal elections at the CDA. De Jonge thought this simply to win – he even wanted to bet a bottle of good wine underneath it – but suddenly all kinds of party leaders turned subtly against him, as did countless people who otherwise would never have interfered with the history of the Christian Democrats.
There were debacles with the appathon for a new application, which had to map out how the corona virus spreads. More recently, the minister promised all health care staff a bonus of 1000 euros, but the distribution of that money was not without criticism. And then it still remains uneasy around the coronas emergency law that should make it easier for the government to exercise control over the population when the virus will revive.
Despite a few adjustments, the Council of State is still not satisfied, especially because the resources that the government wants to deploy are disproportionate. The advisory body finds the temporary law vague. A number of cases are insufficiently specified and violators of the corona measures still receive a criminal record, even if this has no consequences for applying for a VOG (Certificate of Good Conduct).

What I was mainly wondering is whether we need an emergency law at all for something that we hope will disappear completely in the short term. During the first lockdown, the company proved sufficiently that it could comply with the temporary rules of the government. The Council of State writes about this: “At the same time, now that the acute first phase has passed, also because of the continuing importance of sufficient support, the coming period should return as much as possible to more normal living conditions and normal administrative relations.”
If all the above developments show anything, it is that Minister Hugo de Jonge has more ambition than tact. Not a good quality for someone who wants to lead a party.