D66 to vet new members before vote

1st April 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Democrat D66 will screen all new members prior to giving them voting rights at Saturday's crucial party congress which will decide the fate of the coalition government.

1 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — The Democrat D66 will screen all new members prior to giving them voting rights at Saturday's crucial party congress which will decide the fate of the coalition government.

Every new member who paid to join the D66 after Wednesday will be assessed on their credibility. A party spokesman said the decision was prompted by the extreme rise in memberships from Wednesday.

"This gives cause to suspect a call via media and the internet outlets to obtain voting rights under false pretences has been answered," he said.

D66 said the party's management regretted the matter because those members who had taken out membership for legitimate purposes were being infringed upon.

Activist groups have urged the public to take out D66 membership this week in order to dismiss the unpopular coalition government.

D66 members will vote on Saturday whether to accept the Easter accord the party reached with coalition partners the Christian Democrat CDA and Liberal VVD.

The accord was designed to ward off a Cabinet collapse after opposition party Labour PvdA blocked important D66 legislation in the Senate last week preventing the introduction of direct mayoral elections.

D66 then demanded and won policy concessions from the CDA and VVD, but D66 founder Hans van Mierlo has criticised the accord. He claims it offers little in terms of democratic reform, an integral party objective.

If D66 grassroots supporters reject the accord at the congress in The Hague on Saturday, the collapse of the coalition government is considered inevitable.

While it is difficult to predict with any real certainty, commentators have expressed doubt that the accord will be rejected because the D66 has little to win if a new election is called. Its parliamentary membership could be reduced even further from its present tally of six seats.

But broadcaster NCRV placed advertisements in various national newspapers on Friday urging D66 members to vote against the accord. It said the accord signified the end of the Dutch public broadcast system.

NCRV was referring to plans to revamp the system limiting the influence of public broadcasters and restricting them to producing shows focused on news, opinion, art and culture. Entertainment shows would be scrapped under the plans.

It was concerned that the cabinet would gain control over public broadcast programmes via policy and budgetary conditions and appointments to supervisory boards, news agency 'Novum' reported.

But the NCRV later apologised and said it was not opposed to the government accord, but had instead urged for it to be renegotiated. It is concerned about the possible marginalisation of public broadcasters. 

Some commentators have even compared the situation to communist Russia, claiming that the Dutch government is trying to tell public broadcasters what they can and cannot broadcast.

In another reaction, the chief of broadcaster AVRO pointed out on Radio 1 on Friday that one of the main tasks of public television and radio is to keep close tabs on government policy.

D66 Culture State Secretary Medy van der Laan sympathised with the ensuing unrest, but said her plans were necessary. "And I assume the [NCRV] advertisement was not financed by public broadcast funds. That money is targeted at making good programmes," she said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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