Complaining about formations in the Netherlands is of all times, but dissatisfaction with the course of the 2021 formation was unprecedented and widely shared. It also contributed to popular cynicism about politics. The resolution of the dilemmas and paradoxes that make cabinet formation so complicated in the Netherlands are not easy to solve by procedural means, the evaluation committee fully acknowledges. The political context and the election result, together with politicians' trust in each other, the chemistry between politicians and the political will to cooperate determine the course. Nevertheless, interventions in the process and customs - such as setting deadlines - can be expected to provide impetus, according to the committee.
The Van Baalen commission was set up to evaluate the 2021/22 cabinet formation, the longest ever. It took almost three hundred days before the results of the parliamentary elections of 17 March 2021 had resulted in a new cabinet - nota bene of the same composition as the old one (VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie). Especially the events at the beginning, after the leak of the internal memo stating 'position Omtzigt, function elsewhere', caused disturbed relations between the parties. Blockades back and forth caused further delays.
Van Baalen Committee
Since the Lower House took control of the cabinet formation in 2012, it has had every formation evaluated by academics. The committee that examined the 2021 formation consisted of Van Baalen (former director of the Centre for Parliamentary History), Alexander van Kessel (researcher at the CPG), Paul Bovend'Eert (professor of constitutional law at the RU) and Mark van Twist (professor of public administration at Erasmus University Rotterdam). Bovend'Eert and Van Kessel were also part of the committees that evaluated the 2012 and 2017 formations; Van Baalen also of the 2012 committee. The evaluation committee spoke to all explorers, informateurs, political group chairmen and many people involved in the formation.
The evaluation committee also advises the House to conduct its own debate on what it understands by the directive function during the formation. The politicians involved hold rather different, sometimes widely divergent views on this, the committee's interviews revealed. A successful formation benefits from confidentiality, according to the committee. Disclosure of all confidential documents from the start of the 2021 formation was therefore a false start to cabinet formation. The committee also recommends appointing only one explorer in future and not two, as happened in March 2021.
More information on the report can be found here: