Does a general ‘Lelystad model’ agreement have national potential?
The Municipality of Lelystad is using a new kind of council agreement: a general agreement that all parties are entitled to have their say on. As Professor of Constitutional Law Wim Voermans recently said on Dutch current affairs programme ‘EenVandaag’, this form of agreement would also lend itself well to national politics.
Tension between coalition and opposition
Following a politically turbulent period in the Dutch city of Lelystad, a new council agreement has been reached that Aldermen from both the VVD and GroenLinks parties are very satisfied with. The VVD’s Lilian Van Grimbergen told EenVandaag, ‘We noticed that the coalition agreement did not benefit the city as we had hoped and that caused a great deal of tension between the coalition and opposition.’ This also affected the 2022 municipal elections, which had a very low electoral turnout of 41%.
General preparatory exploration
In order to guarantee quality in the city, the Aldermen felt that general preparatory exploration was required. ‘The idea of a new council agreement emerged,’ said the Party Chairs. The agreement was signed by the majority of the 14 parties. Three parties (PVV, FVD and Leefbaar Lelystad) did not sign the agreement, which means they form the opposition. However, they do remain equal discussion partners. This is a key contrast with traditional relations between a ‘watertight’ coalition and the opposition.
The topics on which the parties have not yet reached a general agreement – such as Lelystad Airport and asylum policy – will be passed to a ‘non-council agreement’.
Voermans believes that council agreements based on the Lelystad model work well, and other municipalities are increasingly adopting them as well. ‘'Under this kind of agreement, the parties’ interests are often similar and so it’s nice to have a council-wide agreement containing the primary goals,’ says Voermans. He predicts that it could also work on a national level: ‘We've used it in the past, when Joop den Uyl was Prime Minister back in the 1970s.’
Photo: krakenimages through Unsplash