All eyes on Verdonk as likely winner of VVD race

31st May 2006, Comments 0 comments

31 May 2006, AMSTERDAM — The announcement of the winner of the leadership election for the Liberal Party (VVD) on Wednesday evening is to be broadcast live on television and the internet.

31 May 2006

AMSTERDAM — The announcement of the winner of the leadership election for the Liberal Party (VVD) on Wednesday evening is to be broadcast live on television and the internet.

Public channel Nederland 1 and commercial station RTL 4 are broadcasting the result live at 7.30pm. Several websites, including the online version of newspaper 'De Telegraaf', will have live coverage on the internet.

Despite or because of the absence of reliable opinion polls, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is widely seen as the most likely victor in the contest for the lijsttrekker (political leader) position.

The lijsttrekker will be chairman or chairwoman of the VVD's 28 MPs and will lead the party into the general election in 2007. The party elite supports junior minister Mark Rutte (Education). Verdonk's populist image has gone down well with the more conservative rank and file.

The VVD is part of the governing coalition with the Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Democrat D66.

CDA sources suggested in 'De Telegraaf' on Wednesday that a win for Verdonk could endanger the continuation of the government. The worry is that Verdonk may try to collapse the government to capitalise in an early election on her nationwide exposure from the VVD campaign.

Rutte was the first person to announce he was running for the VVD political leader position. But as soon as Verdonk threw her hat into the ring the campaign became all about her. The third candidate MP Jelleke Veenendaal is the rank outsider and has not a realistic chance of winning.

Verdonk made national and international news earlier in May when she announced Liberal MP and Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali may not be entitled to hold Dutch citizenship. Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia and used a false name and date of birth to get asylum in the Netherlands in 1992. She was naturalised five years later.

The Netherlands was condemned in the international media for what many saw as an attempt to silence Hirsi Ali. Yet Verdonk's move was quite popular among elements of Dutch society.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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