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Yet another minister resigns: 'Moral democratic compass is lacking'

Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (VVD) has resigned as Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management with immediate effect. She has decided to take up a position outside politics and will become chair of the lobby organisation for the energy sector, Energie Nederland.

Wim Voermans

Wim Voermans, Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law, says in Dutch newspaper NRC that Van Nieuwenhuizen’s move demonstrates that the cabinet is consistently flouting democratic norms: 'Not good at all. In the future, Van Nieuwenhuizen will be lobbying for a sector in which she was involved as a member of the government’.

This goes against the letter and the spirit of the prohibition on lobbying that applies to government members and was introduced in 2017. For a period of two years following their departure, government members may not lobby on matters they dealt with in their government post. But on 1 January 2020, the circular was withdrawn without any publicity. Minister Kajsa Ollongren, however, did write to the House of Representatives in July stating that the prohibition on lobbying remained in force. 

The question is not only whether Van Nieuwenhuizen’s move can be seen as falling either just within or just outside this prohibition, says Voermans. 'A moral democratic compass is lacking. And it’s a pattern. The problem with the culture of the government in the Netherlands today is that it is being run like a business, where the cabinet functions like a boardroom and people fly in and out all the time.'

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