Accusations fly in aftermath of resignation

24th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

24 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — Parties on the right and the left of the political spectrum in the Dutch Parliament are blaming each other for the resignation of Minister for Government Reform and Kingdom Affairs Thom de Graaf.

24 March 2005

AMSTERDAM — Parties on the right and the left of the political spectrum in the Dutch Parliament are blaming each other for the resignation of Minister for Government Reform and Kingdom Affairs Thom de Graaf.

The leader of the left-of-centre Liberal Democratic D66 party, Boris Dittrich, has placed the entire blame on the opposition Labour PvdA party for blocking a constitutional amendment that was required to introduce direct mayoral elections.

"The state of affairs is scandalous, totally incredible. Hague [political] games are being played here," news service NOS quoted Dittrich saying during a debate on the resignation in the Lower House on Wednesday night.

The D66 is part of the coalition government and the parliamentary party leaders of the other two coalition partners also blamed the PvdA. Speaking for the Liberal party VVD, Jozias van Aartsen accused Labour of abusing the Constitution in the Senate to stymie the dominant Lower House of Parliament.

Christian Democrat CDA Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende questioned whether Labour senators — despite concessions made by De Graaf leading up to the vote late on Tuesday — ever really intended to support the constitutional amendment.

Labour leader Wouter Bos hit back by accusing the VVD and CDA of not allowing De Graaf enough space to make real concessions to allay the concerns voiced by PvdA senators.

De Graaf, a former leader of D66, resigned on Wednesday night after PvdA senators teamed up in the Upper House of Parliament with other left-wing parties and the orthodox Christian SGP on Tuesday night to block a constitutional amendment that would remove the monarch's right to appoint mayors.

This was an essential part of De Graaf's plan to introduce direct elections of mayors, starting with the big cities in 2006.

PvdA leader Bos and Labour MPs in the Lower House had expressed support for the general idea of allowing the public to elect mayors.

D66's two other ministers are now considering whether to stay or abandon the coalition government. Should they also resign, the Cabinet of CDA Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will collapse.

The green-left GroenLinks suggested De Graaf's resignation had more to do with the lack of support within the coalition for his plans to overhaul the national electoral system.

D66 is now seeking a clear sign of support for reform of the Dutch electoral system from the CDA and VVD as a condition for staying in the coalition government.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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