Pieter Omtzigt

Pieter Herman Omtzigt (born 8 January 1974) is an independent Dutch politician who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2003 apart from a short interruption from 17 June to 26 October 2010.

Pieter Omtzigt
PieterOmtzigt2 (cropped).jpg
Omtzigt in 2006
Member of the House of Representatives
Assumed office
26 October 2010
In office
3 June 2003 – 17 June 2010
Personal details
Born
Pieter Herman Omtzigt

(1974-01-08) 8 January 1974 (age 48)
The Hague, Netherlands
Political partyChristian Democratic Appeal (2000–2021)[1]
Independent (2021–present)
Residence(s)Enschede, Netherlands
Alma materUniversity of Exeter (BA)[2]
European University Institute (PhD)[2]
University of Amsterdam (post-doc) [2]

In his political work, Omtzigt focuses on matters of taxes and pensions. He rose to prominence for his role in uncovering the childcare benefits scandal.[3]

Political careerEdit

House of RepresentativesEdit

In parliament, Omtzigt currently serves on the Committees on European Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Housing and Kingdom Services, Social Affairs and Employment, Finance and Public Expenditure. From 2017, he served as the parliament's rapporteur on Brexit.[4]

From 2019, Omtzigt, together with Member of Parliament Renske Leijten (SP), stood up for affected parents in the childcare benefits scandal in which more than 20,000 families were wronged when applying for childcare allowance. In the end, civil servants and (former) ministers were heard by the parliamentary questioning committee on Childcare Allowance, which ultimately led to the fall of the third Rutte cabinet in January 2021.

In July 2020, Omtzigt was defeated by Deputy Prime Minister Hugo de Jonge in a vote for the position of leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal. Omtzigt was re-elected in the 2021 general election, winning 342,472 preference votes, more than any other non-party leader.[5] Following the election, Omtzigt took time off, after complaining of exhaustion.[6] Despite his leave, he decided to attend his installation on 31 March 2021.[7]

On 25 March 2021, confidential notes from the government formation were revealed to include, among other things, "position Omtzigt, function elsewhere" (Dutch: "positie Omtzigt, functie elders").[8] This prompted a heated debate in parliament and an impasse in the government formation.[9] Amid the continuous news, Omtzigt took a formal leave of absence of four months starting on 25 May. He was temporarily replaced as a member of parliament by Henri Bontenbal.[10]

On 10 June 2021 a 78-page memo by Omtzigt was leaked, addressed to the CDA's Spies-committee that analysed the results of the parliamentary elections of March 2021. Omtzigt lashed out hard at the CDA, group employees and CDA members of parliament who were not named and wrote that he was promised the leadership of the party if Hugo de Jonge would withdraw as party leader. After De Jonge's departure, however, the party leadership was offered to Wopke Hoekstra. According to Omtzigt, that was completely beyond his control. According to Omtzigt, political party members and members of the House of Representatives have said about him that he is a "psychopath, sick man, rabid dog, jerk, disturbed" and "unstable". Some of those claims were added to the memo by Omtzigt in a WhatsApp screenshot. Two days later, Omtzigt announced that he had left the CDA, and that he would continue as an independent member of parliament after his leave of absence.[11]

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of EuropeEdit

In addition to his role in parliament, Omtzigt has been serving as member of the Dutch delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) since 2004. He is currently a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights; the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee); the Sub-Committee on Human Rights; the Sub-Committee on the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights; and the Sub-Committee on the Rights of Minorities.

In his capacity at the Parliamentary Assembly, Omtzigt has served as the Assembly's rapporteur on mass surveillance since 2014.[12] He has also been the Parliamentary Assembly’s General Rapporteur on the protection of whistleblowers since 2021.[13]

Omtzigt has also served as rapporteur on the case of the car bombing of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (2018),[14] justice for the victims of ISIL (2019);[15] and on Poland (2019).[16] Between 2016 and 2017, he prepared the Assembly's proposal on an Investment Court System (ICS) for arbitrating in commercial disputes between states and foreign investors.[17]

Political positionsEdit

Omtzigt was seen as representative of the CDA's eurosceptic wing. He has been critical of European Central Bank policies and, in 2020, pushed his party to support the idea of the Netherlands opting-out of unwanted EU programs.[18]

ControversyEdit

In 2017, media in the Netherlands described how fake news reports of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash were propagated with the support of Omtzigt who introduced a Russian man as an "eyewitness" of the crash on a public expert debate in May 2017. The man, who was an asylum-seeker from Ukraine, never witnessed the crash, and his speech, texted to him by Omtzigt prior to the interview, repeated one of the Russia-promoted versions of Mig jets downing the Boeing. Shortly thereafter, journalists determined that R. had not been at home on the night of the crash and he had already been interviewed by officials who had discounted him as a witness.[19][20][21] He acknowledged via Twitter that he had acted carelessly and a few days later resigned from the spokesperson for the MH17 file.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Dr. P.H. (Pieter) Omtzigt". Parlement & Politiek (in Dutch). Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Pieter Omtzigt". House of Representatives. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  3. ^ Meeus, Tom-Jan (29 January 2021). "The man defying Mark Rutte". POLITICO. Retrieved 30 January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Toby Sterling (February 16, 2018), Dutch to hire 750 new customs agents before Brexit Reuters.
  5. ^ "Ruim 342.000 stemmen voor Omtzigt, goed voor bijna vijf Kamerzetels". NOS.nl (in Dutch). 26 March 2021. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  6. ^ Mike Corder (1 April 2021), Dutch PM Rutte fights for his political life in tough debate Washington Post.
  7. ^ "CDA-Kamerlid Omtzigt komt morgen naar Tweede Kamer voor beëdiging". NOS.nl (in Dutch). 30 March 2021. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Ollongren biedt inkijkje: 'functie elders' voor Omtzigt". De Telegraaf (in Dutch). 25 March 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Rutte afgestraft in Kamer, maar wil vertrouwen terugwinnen". Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (in Dutch). 2 April 2021. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  10. ^ "CDA'er Pieter Omtzigt wordt tijdelijk vervangen als Kamerlid". NOS.nl (in Dutch). 25 May 2021. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Tweede Kamerlid Omtzigt stapt uit CDA". NOS (in Dutch). 12 June 2021. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  12. ^ Call on UK to investigate spying on human rights groups by UK secret services Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, press release of 14 July 2015.
  13. ^ Pieter Omtzigt: new whistleblower protection law in Malta ‘not fit for purpose’ Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, press release of 20 December 2021.
  14. ^ CPJ welcomes Council of Europe's appointment of Omtzigt as special rapporteur on Malta case Committee to Protect Journalists, press release of 23 April 2018.
  15. ^ Rapporteur calls for assurances that developments in Syria will not jeopardise justice for the victims of Daesh Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, press release of 11 October 2019.
  16. ^ Rapporteurs closely follow challenges to Polish Senate election result Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, press release of 24 October 2019.
  17. ^ Investment court system a ‘reasonable compromise’ for arbitrating disputes between states and foreign investors Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, press release of 27 January 2017.
  18. ^ Tom-Jan Meeus (January 29, 2021), The man defying Mark Rutte Politico Europe.
  19. ^ "Hoe twijfel rond MH17 in de hand wordt gewerkt". NRC (in Dutch). Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Omtzigt faces calls to quit over 'fake witness' who spoke at MH17 meeting". DutchNews.nl. 2017-11-13. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  21. ^ "Labour stalwart says he edited Dutch MP's Wikipedia page". Times of Malta. Retrieved 2020-02-15.

External linksEdit