For a long time, voters’ dissatisfaction with politics was not expressed in dissatisfaction with Mark Rutte (VVD). But that has changed. Satisfaction with the prime minister is lower than ever, as is his fourth cabinet. And, strikingly, the majority of voters of three of the four coalition parties (D66, CDA and ChristenUnie) are dissatisfied with Rutte IV. Only VVD voters are satisfied in the majority.

    That according to research by I&O Research commissioned by NRC. The agency interviewed 2,684 Dutch people. A large majority of Dutch voters, almost 80 percent, say they are dissatisfied with the current cabinet – a higher percentage than during Rutte III. Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) receives a 4.5 rating from voters – he has never scored this low in the six years that research has been conducted into this. Only three out of ten Dutch people see him as a reliable prime minister, seven out of ten Dutch people think that he is past his expiry date.

    It is disappointing figures on the first Budget Day that Rutte IV presents a budget. The cabinet of VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie had just intended to restore the bond between government and citizens. But after eight months of rule, only three out of ten voters still trust the national government. Confidence in ministers (22 percent) and MPs (26 percent) is even lower.

    “We’ve never seen such low satisfaction before,” says opinion researcher at I&O Research Asher van der Schelde. From the beginning of Rutte IV he noticed ‘negative sentiments’ among voters in his studies. The government has not been able to dispel those feelings. Instead, the dissatisfaction has shown an upward trend since January, when Rutte IV took office. In the meantime, the cabinet turned out to be unable to solve problems, such as solving the problems caused by gas extraction in Groningen and compensating the parents in the Allowance Affair – the reason Rutte III fell. What did happen: the problems piled up, partly caused by the policies, or lack thereof, of previous cabinets. Van der Schelde: “A lot is now coming together: asylum, nitrogen, migration, the housing market, that is starting to take its revenge. People say: a lot is happening, but the government is not doing anything.”

    Citizens see rising energy prices, followed by the war between Russia and Ukraine and rising inflation, as the most important crises of the moment. At the same time, they are also the most dissatisfied with the government’s handling of energy prices and inflation, as well as the tight housing market. It illustrates exactly where the displeasure lies. Voters, according to the survey, believe that the government lacks vision and leadership. They also lack decisiveness in dealing with crises. The Social and Cultural Planning Bureau also noted earlier that the Dutch believe that politics is too far removed from citizens, that they do not listen carefully and that they do not understand what their problems are.

    VVD voters are satisfied

    The figures on D66 voters are striking. In July, 61 percent were still satisfied with the cabinet, now that is only 36 percent. It is the first time that a majority of that party’s supporters have shown themselves dissatisfied. This also applies to the CDA (41 percent) and the ChristenUnie (40 percent). Incidentally, it is not unique for the latter party, it already happened in four of the six measurements in the past year. There is one exception in the coalition: the majority of VVD voters, 70 percent, are still satisfied.

    The majority, about three quarters, also see no alternative for Mark Rutte as prime minister. It is striking that CDA voters (42 percent) also say this relatively often. This means that a large part of the people who vote for the party of CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra do not see him as the obvious successor to Rutte.

    Incidentally, it is not only Mark Rutte that receives an unsatisfactory score from voters – Hoekstra (4.3) and Sigrid Kaag of D66 (4.1) score even lower. Of the coalition party leaders, only Gert-Jan Segers receives a higher score: 5.1.

    Only two of all party leaders get a pass: Caroline van der Plas of the BoerBurgerBeweging is rewarded with a 5.8. Pieter Omtzigt, the former CDA MP who sits in the House as a one-man faction, gets a 7. ‘Omtzigt is popular with a wide group of voters, from the radical right to the left,’ says researcher Asher van der Schelde. “He is seen as someone who still stands for honest politics and reliable governance.” Van der Plas derives her popularity from something else: “She is seen as an ordinary Dutch person, who is not separated from reality.”

    Read also about the research of the SCP: ‘Trust in politics is politicized’

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