Staghouwer answered no further questions. According to insiders, he felt too little confidence in the House of Representatives in his actions in tackling the nitrogen problem. Staghouwer was the wrong person in the wrong place, he thinks.
Staghouwer held sway for nine months at a ministry that is known for being difficult. Staghouwer failed to break through that wall. In addition, he had to deal with a government coalition that is also not easy to align, and in which unity is hard to find on many issues.
Until a definitive successor is found, Staghouwers party colleague Carola Schouten will take over his portfolio. She is now Minister for Poverty Policy, but was Minister of Agriculture in the previous cabinet. She knows the problem very well and negotiated extensively with all parties about the nitrogen approach during the previous cabinet term. But insiders say that the chance is very small that she will return to her old place for good.
Staghouwer was Minister of Agriculture for nine months. Previously, he was deputy in the province of Groningen. He is the first minister of Rutte IV to resign.
For ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers it is ‘a sad day’. He finds it ‘disappointing’ that it has not been possible to keep the ChristenUnie team intact. When asked, Segers says that he will not succeed Staghouwer himself. He remains party leader in the House of Representatives.
The ChristenUnie must diligently look for a successor for Henk Staghouwer. The person who takes over from Staghouwer will have to come from a good background, because the nitrogen dossier and the sustainability of agriculture are unruly problems. The positions are still miles apart. The smallest governing party has no deadly candidates ready.