Thursday, March 26, 2009

Aukje de Vries' Diary Day 67

Today, finally the Parliament can give its opinion. The opposition is furious. Why couldn’t they participate in making plans, why are the social partners heard before the Parliament? The one substantial measure that the government had in its plan: raising the age for the state pension is now uncertain because of the actions of the trade union. The decision is delayed by half a year and people do not know what is going to happen. When the leader of the fraction of the Christian Democrats says at the beginning of the debate that the government has made a well balanced proposal and that not much can be changed now that an agreement has been reached, this is more than one of the opposition parties finds acceptable. The whole fraction of 9 MPs leaves the room. It is a very unusual move and draws a lot of attention of the media.
The other opposition fractions stay in the room and they all are of the opinion that it is bad that the plans have been made by just a small group of people. All the other 147 MPs had no influence. Is that democracy? The other opposition parties stay in the room and launch fierce attacks with few results. The debate lasts all day until late in the evening. The opposition parties get two of their ideas adopted, but they are only minor additions to the agreement. There is a lot of criticism that the government has not stood firm on raising the age required for the state pension.
I only see part of the debate. I do not have the patience to sit and watch all day long. I have more to do. I wonder though what will happen to health care. I understand that there will be important cutbacks on the allowances people get to pay for their health care insurance. This is bad news for people with a lower income.

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