He’s happy to be back at work, but found it a little confusing when he entered the room building this morning. Photographers, camera crews and journalists were waiting for him. “Usually, after exhaustion, you start off quietly, with half a day. But it’s hard here,” says Peter Omtzegt in his new office in the provisional lower house.
He was at home for sixteen weeks. Meanwhile he left his party, the CDA, and returned as a one-man faction. Omtzigt Group. In those 16 weeks of sick leave, he followed politics off the bench, including the faltering formation. “What I saw was not very cheerful. That promised new management culture has not yet taken off.”
His main ambition is to restore balance between government and citizens. In order to achieve this, Omtzigt wants to focus primarily on legislation in the coming period. For example, he wants a constitutional amendment to be able to test proposals against the constitution. He is also considering stricter rules for former ministers who will push for interest groups and a new electoral system, in which MPs are more elected on the basis of their regional connections.
Take matters into your own hands
He does not want to wait for the Cabinet, as Omtzigt believes that the Chamber of Deputies should take matters into their own hands much more. “The House of Representatives is the highest organ. The government does not voluntarily give up a piece of power and therefore will not come up with such proposals any time soon.”
On his first day, Omtzigt was immediately involved in the great debate about the evacuations from Kabul. His impression was that the government was not prepared for the fall of the Afghan capital, and as a result the evacuations began too late and people were left behind. “I want to know what lessons have been learned from Srebrenica.” Then, according to Omtzigt, it turns out that you have to prepare for the worst case scenario. “It doesn’t look like this has happened now.”
2 minutes talking time
Despite the more than 340,000 preferred votes Umtzeghet got in the last parliamentary elections, which is nearly five seats, it constitutes a split according to the House’s rules. This means that he is only entitled to appoint one employee and has a maximum of two minutes of speaking time in discussions. As a splitter, he also receives a limited budget. “The workload is insanely high, especially for a one-man group,” Umtzegt says. In order to keep up, he decided to say no to media requests too often.
With a slight interruption, Omtzigt has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2003 for the CDA. In the last election he made a futile attempt at leadership. Hugo de Jong narrowly won, but later relinquished his place to Wopke Hoekstra. According to Umtzicht, he was promised this position.
In June, Omtzigt rescinded his CDA membership after his input to assess an election defeat was leaked. In it he severely criticized the party and its party members.