King’s Speech by an outgoing cabinet: political swansong?
The King’s Speech delivered by King Willem-Alexander on the third Tuesday of September in 2017 will be written by an outgoing cabinet. What effect will this have on its content? Professor Arco Timmermans (Public Affairs) and public administration expert Gerard Breeman analysed other King’s Speeches by outgoing cabinets in an article for the Montesquieu Institute.
There is much speculation about whether the King’s Speech on Prince’s Day will be written by Cabinet Rutte II or Rutte III. Things must suddenly spring into action if it is to be the latter. We think that it will be an outgoing King’s Speech, the fifth by Rutte II. Since 1945, only Drees III and Den Uyl have delivered five King’s Speeches, both also during their outgoing period. These fifth King’s Speeches generally contain a lot less policy than previous ones.
A King’s Speech like this that is written by an outgoing cabinet, particularly one that has already served the populace for four years, is expected to be an extremely modest update on government policy. More a political swansong that gives the next cabinet the room to announce real new plans than an ambitious statement. No plans that will need parliament’s approval and certainly no sensitive material on the agenda therefore: what is known as a ‘policy-light’ King’s Speech.