LPF gun threat ended coalition, says Verhagen
12 April 2006, AMSTERDAM — Christian Democrat parliamentary party leader Maxime Verhagen has shed new light on the collapse of the first Balkenende government.
12 April 2006
AMSTERDAM — Christian Democrat parliamentary party leader Maxime Verhagen has shed new light on the collapse of the first Balkenende government.
The coalition government between the Christian Democrats, Liberals and the populist LPF party lasted only 87 days in 2002. Internal bickering within the LPF was blamed at the time.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende was returned to power in the resulting election, this time forming a coalition with the Liberals and Democrat D66.
Now Verhagen has claimed in magazine 'Elsevier' that the final straw was a claim by LPF leader Harry Wijnschenk that he had been threatened on 16 October 2002.
"There was supposed to be a LPF parliamentary party meeting. At that moment Harry Wijnschenk, with two bodyguards, came into my office and said a colleague had been threatened him with a pistol," Verhagen said.
Verhagen refused to confirm the rumours that the alleged gun-totting MP was Gerard van As, the current leader of the LPF.
"I have no comment on this. Nevertheless, I thought at the time: 'guys, it is totally Wild West here; it's over'. I informed Balkenende of what I had heard and I said that this was the final straw as far as I was concerned. I thought: 'we have to get out of this.'"
Wijnschenk was the third leader of the LPF but only held the position from 28 August to 16 October 2002. He had replaced Mat Herben, who in turn had taken over after the assassination of party founder Pim Fortuyn on 6 May 2002.
Herben was re-appointed leader after Wijnschenk stepped down and left the party. Both Wijnschenk and Van As denied Verhagen's claim when it was put to them by Elsevier.
It was widely thought that Liberal Leader Gerrit Zalm had pulled the plug on the coalition in exasperation at the LPF infighting. Herben revealed publicly last year for the first time that Verhagen and not Zalm was responsible.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news