Dutch Language Blog

Was minister Plasterk ousted for his words about the NSA? Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in Dutch Vocabulary, News

The NSA is present in the media today more than ever – in both senses. This also hit the Netherlands. In October last year, the agency was
alleged through information provided by Edward Snowden of tapping metadata (so information about which phone calls which phone) of 1.8 million telefoontjes (phone calls). As well as in other countries, the Dutch were outraged and wanted the overheid (government) to do something about this.

Ronald Plasterk, the Dutch Minister van Binnenlandse Zaken (en Koninkrijksrelaties) (Minister of the Interior (and Kingdom Relations) – comparable to the American Secretary of Homeland Security) said in the TV program Nieuwsuur (http://nos.nl/embed/?id=v:569130&autoplay=) that he did not know about the collection of these data, allegedly by the NSA. Now I say that carefully. As if this schandaal (scandal) was not enough yet, it turned out last week that Plasterk actually knew about the 1.8 million tapped telefoontjes. They were even collected by the Dutch services themselves!

The Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber, comparable to the American House of Representatives) was very upset, of course. The minister has ministerial responsibility to parliament in the Netherlands, meaning that they can only be in office as long as the parliament puts vertrouwen (confidence) in him or her. The Tweede Kamer wanted to hear him on the issue, and that happened last Tuesday.

He apologized (bood excuses aan) for what he said in Nieuwsuur, calling his own behavior “buitengewoon onverstandig” (extraordinarily unwise). It was wrong of him to confirm something that he did not know for sure, which was. Even when he knew he was wrong already in November, the law restricted him to tell the Second Chamber. A good amount of the parliament members understood his reasoning and put their vertrouwen in him again.

However, some members still disagreed, and wanted to oust him with a motie van vantrouwen (motion of no-confidence), which was introduced by the leader of the party D66 Alexander Pechtold. Ousting him is only possible if a simple majority is reached in the Tweede Kamer. Plasterk was lucky that 56% voted against this motie. So he got lucky, and remains the Minister van Binnenlandse Zaken!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.