She left 50Plus with banging doors. As a one-man faction, she continued in the House of Representatives. But with a fractional fund of more than one million euros. Liane den Haan, leader of the Den Haan faction, has more than twice as much to spend this year than one-man factions such as the BBB of Caroline van der Plas or Bij1 of Sylvana Simons. With the approval of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Vera Bergkamp.
How is that possible? Since 2017, ‘split-offs’ have been cut extra in terms of fraction budget and speaking time; a sanction that the House imposes on ‘seat robbers’. They are no longer allowed to call themselves a faction, but are called ‘group’. This does not apply to Den Haan. She left 50Plus in May with an argument, after which the party disappeared from the House of Representatives with one seat. But according to Chamber President Vera Bergkamp, there was no question of a seat robbery or split. Because, Bergkamp writes in an email exchange with the lawyer of two former 50Plus members, a one-person faction cannot split off.
And so Den Haan can also call itself a faction, and she will not be cut in budget or speaking time. And she will receive more money for support than Pieter Omtzigt, when he returns soon: about 100,000 euros a month, the Omtzigt group 11,000 euros.
Also read: 50Plus threatens to disappear from the House of Representatives due to an argument
That fraction money will be deposited in the cash of the Stichting Support 50Plus, with more than a million euros in cash – partly equity capital at the end of this year. Den Haan knew about this. On May 4, the day before her departure from 50Plus, she registered as chair of that foundation. Two veterans of the party, Léonie Sazias and Gerrit-Jan van Otterloo, wrote them to the Chamber of Commerce. For them, the day before Den Haan’s departure, that was a coup. “We knew nothing about it, Den Haan refused any contact. There was also no formal board decision to deregister us.”
Den Haan now considers himself the owner of that foundation. “It belongs to the group and I am the group,” she says. “All actions took place in close contact with the registry of the House of Representatives.”
Whether she will be able to use the money remains to be seen. Since May, ABN Amro, the house bank, has blocked the account because it is no longer clear who is still authorized to sign. Salaries have since been advanced by the House of Representatives. And in the meantime, the Chamber of Commerce has reversed the deregistration of the two 50-plussers. That had happened wrongly, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
So for now, everything stays the same.
Constitutional experts look with amazement at the struggle for the money of that foundation and Bergkamp’s role in it. Professor of parliamentary history at Maastricht University, Bert van den Braak, believes that Bergkamp should never have admitted her as a faction. “That is contrary to the Rules of Procedure of the House of Representatives itself. New political groups can only be admitted just after the elections on the first day of session. Later on, this is only possible when two or more factions are merged, or when two or more factions are split.” And so, according to Van den Braak, it is “not at all obvious” that Den Haan would be entitled to party money from another party.
Professor Wim Voermans, professor of constitutional and administrative law at Leiden University, speaks of a “grubby situation” and “not in line with the spirit” of the house rules of the House of Representatives. But according to Voermans, everything is possible according to the letter. “Den Haan has cleverly maneuvered along the edges of those rules.”