What a caretaker government means for Prinsjesdag

For the 11th time in Dutch post-war history, a caretaker government will lead the country on Prinsjesdag (Budget Day). When there is a caretaker government, this affects the ‘Miljoenennota’ (Budget Memorandum), in which the government announces its plans for next year.

Caretaker government on Prinsjesdag

When the prime minister offers the resignation of all ministers and secretaries to the King, the government becomes 'demissionair',  a caretaker government. A caretaker government remains in place until a new council of ministers is formed after elections. The King grants resignation to the members of the caretaker government before he appoints the new cabinet.

It is the 11th time in post-war history that a caretaker government leads the country during Budget Day, known in Dutch as Prinsjesdag. It also happened in 1956, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1989, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2021.

A caretaker government takes care of daily business, but usually does not present new policies. It also organises new elections. The cabinet does not take political decisions on what are considered controversial issues. The House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer ) decides which issues can only be debated and decided upon after the elections and the ensuing cabinet fomration. 

Amendments on controversial issues are not debated until there is new government. The caretaker government can still make new policies if it is in the national interest, and this cannot wait until the elections. The House of Representatives decides if this is allowed.

A caretaker government takes care of ongoing issues. This means it also presents the Budget Memorandum (Miljoenennota), the national budget, on Prinsjesdag. This contains the government plans for the coming year. 

The Budget Memorandum of a caretaker government usually has fewer policies. This is because the government no longer takes political decisions on controversial topics. The House of Representatives decides which topics should be discussed after the elections, after a new cabinet forms.

The Budget Memorandum may still contain new policies that are relevant to entrepreneurs. And the caretaker government does propose new plans for topics that cannot wait for a new government. Perhaps because they are needed for national interest, or because they are widely supported in the House of Representatives.

In 2023, important issues with much relevance for entrepreneurs will most likely be delayed due to the government's caretaker status. Think of the 'stikstofcrisis' (nitrogen issue), labour market reforms, the law on self-employed professionals (Zzp-wet) and mandatory disability insurance.