Former Integration Minister Rita Verdonk expelled from parliamentary party
September 13, 2007 Leave a Comment
Conservative (VVD) leader Mark Rutte has broken with Rita Verdonk. She is now likely to start her own party and cause major changes in the polls.
Rutte announced yesterday in a statement: “There was no confidence any more that things would work out again between her and the MPs. Too often has Verdonk damaged the party by statements in the media. Pieces in De Telegraaf and Algemeen Dagblad were the last straw that broke the camel’s back.”
De Telegraaf had revealed yesterday morning that Verdonk made a new attack on Rutte’s leadership at a closed VVD dinner last Saturday. She reportedly said that Rutte has “too little visibility” in the debate on immigration and integration, that the VVD had “lost the ball” to Party for Freedom (PVV) and that the party structure was “undemocratic”. This was the umpteenth time that Verdonk has criticised the party leader.
The VVD has given Verdonk 24 hours to make her Lower House seat available. If she does not do so, Rutte will expel her from the party. Verdonk will in that case keep her seat and will then continue as a one-person group in parliament. The law does not allow parties to take a seat away from an MP.
The rightwing Verdonk won more votes (640,000 in total) in the general elections last November than the ‘socio-liberal’ Rutte. This was the first time ever in the Netherlands that the front-runner of a party was ‘beaten’ by his runner-up. “Everything Rita has since done and is doing is in the context of these elections,” said Rutte yesterday. Verdonk has thereby undermined the VVD “collective”, he added.
Verdonk stated that she had not made a decision yet, claiming Rutte’s decision came as a surprise to her. “There are two options. Either I will leave politics or I will start my own movement”.
Verdonk is expected to continue on her own and take part in the next elections with a new party. Although some say she might joint the Party for Freedom (PVV) of Geert Wilders, Verdonk said yesterday she would not do so.
Wilders left the VVD in 2004 because he was forced to support the VVD position that Turkey could join the EU. He said yesterday Verdonk was welcome to join him. Wilders added he may invite her for a meeting on some form of cooperation.
Verdonk’s departure will probably cause major changes in the polls. On her own, she is expected to be serious competition particularly for PVV and VVD but possibly also the Christian democrats (CDA) and Socialist Party (SP).
If the VVD should drop sharply in the polls in the weeks ahead, Rutte’s position may also be in doubt. Various prominent VVD members spoke yesterday of a “disastrous” decision by Rutte. Among them were former party leader Hans Wiegel and former Lower House speaker Frans Weisglas.
Verdonk said yesterday’s VVD decision was not taken unanimously. She declined to reveal which VVD MPs wanted her to stay or whether she will take some of them with her to a new party. Insiders said MPs Hans van Baalen, Fred Teeven and Charlie Aptroot voted against Verdonk’s removal. But Van Baalen, who used the term ‘dramatic’ for the situation, said he would “never leave the VVD”.
Source: NIS News, 14 September 2007
Also read: Ex-minister Verdonk expelled from parliamentary party, Radio Netherlands, 13 September 2007