Listening ear

The nomination of Alexandra van Huffelen as State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation in the Netherlands (see Tuesday paper) was generally well-received throughout the Dutch Caribbean. She represents D66, which in the past has shown understanding for obstacles, difficulties and – unfavourable – circumstances the islands often face.

That appears to have been somewhat less the case with her predecessor Raymond Knops of CDA. In addition, St. Maarten’s own Jorien Wuite of D66 is set to play an important role in the Second Chamber of Parliament.

People should not expect too-drastic changes in policy regarding this part of the kingdom, as it concerns the same coalition partners led by returning Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD. At any rate, continuity is usually a main characteristic of politics in The Hague.

It will also be interesting to see how big a role proposed Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Hanke Bruins Slot (CDA) plays in dealing with Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten in practice. The outgoing Minister Kajsa Ollongren (D66), who is moving to Defence, basically left that to Knops.

One thing is for sure, the position of D66 within the governing partnership has been notably strengthened based on an increase in legislative seats, enhancing its influence. That does not mean dealing with the Netherlands will suddenly become much easier, but the islands might at least find a more listening ear.