First round goes to Rutte in VVD race

25th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

25 April 2006, AMSTERDAM — Junior Education Minister Mark Rutte appeared to win a narrow victory on Monday night over Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk in the first of a series of public debates in the Liberal Party (VVD) leadership race.

25 April 2006

AMSTERDAM — Junior Education Minister Mark Rutte appeared to win a narrow victory on Monday night over Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk in the first of a series of public debates in the Liberal Party (VVD) leadership race.

A slight majority of the 200 VVD members who attended the debate at a discotheque in Heerhugowaard, North Holland Province, backed Rutte in a show of hands. Verdonk was slightly behind. Only a few members of the audience voted for the third candidate, MP Jelleke Veenendaal.

The 40,000 members of the VVD are to decide next month which of the three will lead the party into the general election in May 2007.

Rutte and Verdonk differed sharply on taxation policy during the debate. The Immigration Minister wants to see a reduction in the top rate of tax from 52 percent to 48 percent.

Pressed by a questioner on how much this would cost, Verdonk indicated she wanted to talk about the principle and not about "dubbeltjes en centen" (an expression similar to nickels and dimes).

Rutte fired back that her plan would cost the government EUR 632 million and this led to Verdonk being asked whether she had also known the cost and whether she thought the figure was small change.

The Education junior minister said he favoured measures to support middle-income earners.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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