Mark Rutte beats Verdonk
31 May 2006, AMSTERDAM — Junior Education minister Mark Rutte was elected the new political leader of the Liberal Party (VVD) on Wednesday evening.
31 May 2006
AMSTERDAM — Junior Education minister Mark Rutte was elected the new political leader of the Liberal Party (VVD) on Wednesday evening.
Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, his main rival, congratulated him and promised her full support to help make the VVD the largest party. Rutte will lead the party into the general election in 2007.
Rutte received 51 percent of the votes and Verdonk, the bookies' favourite in recent weeks, received 46 percent. The third candidate, MP Jelleke Veenendaal, got 3 percent of the vote.
This is the first time that the 40,000 members of the VVD have been given the chance to pick the political leader in a direct election.
The VVD is part of the governing coalition with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Democrat D66.
CDA sources suggested in newspaper 'De Telegraaf' on Wednesday that a win for Verdonk has the potential to endanger the continuation of the government. The worry was that Verdonk might have collapsed 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 was the rank outsider.
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 the VVD and Dutch society.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news