Geert Wilders' Freedom Party becomes two-faced
On the first day in its new role as cabinet keyholder, the anti-Islam Freedom Party of Dutch MP Geert Wilders was faced with angry voters.
Local councillors representing the Freedom Party were jeered in The Hague when they said they had changed position on privatising the city's transport. On the local council the Freedom Party opposed putting out bus services in the country's third city to tender. But at the national level, in the accord pledging key support to the Liberal and Christian Democrat minority cabinet, the Freedom Party committed itself to the opposite view that public transport in cities should no longer be a government monopoly.
Two views The problem for the Freedom Party of holding two opposing views at the same time is aggravated by the fact that some representatives hold double mandates. The Hague councillor Richard de Mos, for instance, is also an MP. "As a councillor I'm against tendering, as an MP I have to be in favour," he attempted to explain.
Daily reported on Friday that this split view was not accepted by some 200 employees of local transport company HTM, who attended a local council meeting. They booed and then noisily filed out of the public gallery in the city hall.
Cuts HTM has been in charge of The Hague's public transport since 1864. The bus concession comes up for tender in 2012, and the company's employees expect that the right to run bus services will be snapped up by a major, possibly foreign, contender. This could lead to cuts in bus services and to less favourable working conditions, they fear.
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