Now that the break between the Forum for Democracy (FVD) and co-founder Henk Otten is final, it is possible to look at what the new relationships in parliament mean. What are the parties planning now, and how does the government benefit?
For a moment the storm seemed to have subsided after Otten expressed strong criticism in NRC of his political boss Thierry Baudet. Otten became 'only' First Chamber member for FVD, after he had previously been put forward as party chairman.
But peace was never signed. Reproaches followed about financial offenses, back and forth, Otten was disbarred as a party member, threats of declarations and attempted glue attempts failed. The climax followed this week with a definitive departure from Otten and two other FVD senators from the senate group; Jeroen de Vries and Dorien Rozen join what is now called the Fraction Otten.
What can we expect from the Otten Group?
What had to go into history as a nice victory speech, also led to the break within FVD. This was evident this week from the words of Otten at EenVandaag .
Baudet celebrated the win in the Provincial Council elections on March 20 with his now infamous speech about "our boreal world". Purely geographically intended, Baudet claims: boreal literally means 'northern'. But the word also appears in extreme right-wing circles. Jean-Marie Le Pen, among others, used it when he talked about a white and Christian Europe.
Otten certainly doesn't want anything to do with that "boreal nudge". "That boreal does not come out of the blue. That comes directly from the 1930s. Baudet also read all of such books, from Hitler's ideologues," said Otten this week.
In doing so, he partially exposes the direction of the Otten Group for the coming years. Like FVD, he continues to be critical of immigration and the government's climate plans and purchasing power improvement will be the "most important" issue for the coming period, but Otten wants nothing to do with flirting with racism, of which he accuses Baudet.
Moreover, unlike Baudet, Otten wants to do business with the cabinet, now that the coalition of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie in the First Chamber no longer has a majority. "We want to be constructive." Exactly on which points Otten wants to be constructive and what his complete program will look like, he does not yet announce.
Otten also likes to portray Baudet as an unguided projectile ("We spent 60 percent of our time keeping Baudet in line") and pulls out all the stops to make FVD seem as chaotic as possible a club ("I warned you for LPF-like states ").
What does this mean for FVD?
And Baudet? It seems to be watching the scene from a distance. "I like it that if you start something together, you can go through those stages together. But of course it's not a disaster," he responded in front of the NOS camera.
That seems very laconic for someone who has just seen almost a quarter of his senators disappear and is therefore no longer the largest party in the Senate. But Baudet wants to emphasize that his mission and purpose have not changed: "As an opposition party, it's about being able to make a clear sound from the sidelines." With nine instead of twelve seats, that should also work out fine, he thinks.
Baudet does not want to know anything about a battle of directions. Within the party there is, according to the FVD foreman, enough room for discussions and disagreements, without changing the course. If someone claims something else, Baudet calls it "malicious talk".
Moreover, he has nothing to fear from Otten in the Lower House. Elections are only in 2021 and until then his former companion must campaign from the senate. The Senate meets only once a week and usually receives little attention because the political game takes place across the Binnenhof.
Baudet does not mind that the three senators who have left take their FVD seat, "which belongs to the party and the voters who voted for it," with them.
Cabinet and coalition smiling third
No matter how this split-off continues, the coalition and the cabinet are the smiling thirds. They see their options to grow to a majority in the Senate.
So far, people have looked to the left to guide plans through parliament; for the pension agreement, for example, support was found at GroenLinks and the PvdA.
There is now a possibility on the right. Otten does not get the required six extra seats, but if he joins hands with the SGP (two seats), 50PLUS (two seats) and / or the Independent Senate Group (one seat), those parties can give the deciding vote.