The failure of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte to reigning Prime Minister Victor Orbán was not a lie. Would Hungary not be better off leaving the European Union if the country didn’t care about the community of values that exists in the EU? None of the other heads of government in Brussels spoke out so hard against the Hungarian law that violates the human rights of gays, lesbians and transgenders.
That’s how we get to know Rutte again. The man who verbally lashes out when things happen that he doesn’t like. Football supporters who flout the corona rules are told to ‘just shut up’. Rioters in the Schilderswijk in The Hague were dismissed by Rutte as ‘retarded gladiolus’. Turkish-Dutch young people who harassed NOS employees in Rotterdam had to ‘peat up’. And Rutte wanted to ‘beat up ringleaders who attacked aid workers’.
But Rutte also manages to make crystal clear what he means without using coarse language. To bankers who complain that they can earn more abroad, he said: “Then you go to London. Toedeledoki!” And a secretary of state from his cabinet, who found his work very difficult, was told: “When Macron was your age, he already led an entire republic.” So don’t complain.
The swipe at the Hungarian Prime Minister is of a completely different order. Here the very existence of the European Union is essentially threatened. It draws Rutte, who says what he thinks it is and is not afraid of the consequences. In this case, the consequences are about zero. It is impossible to expel a Member State from the European Union and the chance that Hungary will leave on its own is nil. That would be stupid too; the country receives a lot of euros from the Brussels coffers. Moreover, it is supported by other Eastern European countries such as Poland, Slovenia and Bulgaria. And by Geert Wilders, who apologized in a tweet to Orbán for the comment of ‘the idiot Rutte’. And then be surprised that you are excluded from government participation.
It may probably do nothing (Orbán will not give in to the outcry in Brussels), but the swipe does say something about Rutte’s regained self-confidence. In the night of 1 to 2 April, when almost the entire House supported a motion of no confidence against Rutte because of ‘Omtzigt-gate’ and only CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie limited themselves to a motion of censure, Rutte sat there like a dead bird that was only kept afloat by his own party. It was difficult for him to get back up. He was going to do his best, he promised, to regain trust. But it took a long time, weeks, for the skepticism of other parties to wear off.
That has completely changed this week, with the widely supported motion to have Rutte write a sample of a coalition agreement together with Sigrid Kaag. The parties that almost three months ago withdrew their confidence in Rutte or disapproved of his actions, the majority of the parties stepped over their shadow. They couldn’t help it either. The VVD did not think of letting Rutte fall into the Omtzigt failure and the rest of the House could not ignore the largest party for the formation of a new cabinet.
Rutte has not only regained the confidence of the House, but also his own self-confidence.