‘New leadership’ was going to be the whole thing this year. After the administrative failure that caused the surcharges affair and the riot around ‘Omtzigt, function elsewhere’, the governance culture had to change. Moreover, D66 used the term during the elections to portray their leader Sigrid Kaag as a serious alternative to VVD member Mark Rutte the people seeing what type of leader he is. Has anyone seen examples of that new leadership, or has it turned out to be an empty shell?
First, what exactly is new leadership? To answer that question, we can’t ignore a funny fact. The party that used the term the most, D66, does not know it either. That is why members last month during the D66 congress instructed the party top to find out what it means exactly. What should in any case be in the definition, the members thought, are ‘honesty’, ‘openness’, and ‘verifiability of decisions’.
Core democratic values
In fact, you are already there. It does not take many words to understand what is meant by the three points mentioned. A well-functioning democracy cannot exist without honesty, openness, and accountability of decisions, and it is curious that these qualities are attributed to new leadership. That just goes to show how far the ‘old’ has drifted away from our core democratic values.
On the other hand, it is to be commended that the Administrative Netherlands is openly talking about a change in the administrative culture. It’s a start, just talking about it is of course not enough. Is the transition to a new model getting off the ground?
If we highlight two news items from this week, that does not appear to be the case. ‘The Amsterdam alderman, Rutger Groot Wassink (GL), wanted press questions about a report on anti-gay violence in the capital to be ‘withheld’. The document stated that, according to victims, the perpetrators often have a non-Western background.’ And: ‘Minister Hugo de Jonge (CDA) sent a critical report by the Council for the Judiciary on corona pass in the workplace that was already ready on 17 November, just before Christmas, to the House of Representatives. This makes a debate about this virtually impossible.’
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Two examples are the exact opposite of fairness, openness, and accountability of decisions. New leadership will be one of the most used word combinations in the Netherlands, let it be the most chosen form of government in the Netherlands in 2022.