PM, Cabinet confident oneve of vital D66 congress

1st April 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Cabinet has full confidence that the new coalition accord will be approved at a make-or-break Democrat D66 congress on Saturday, guaranteeing the government's survival. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said D66 leaders have a strong argument to present to the rank-and-file members. "It will be without doubt a spirited debate, but D66 members in the government and the parliamentary faction have indicated they want to continue the coalition," he said.

1 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — The Cabinet has full confidence that the new coalition accord will be approved at a make-or-break Democrat D66 congress on Saturday, guaranteeing the government's survival.
 
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said D66 leaders have a strong argument to present to the rank-and-file members. "It will be without doubt a spirited debate, but D66 members in the government and the parliamentary faction have indicated they want to continue the coalition," he said.

But the Christian Democrat CDA leader refused to comment on Friday on the consequences of the accord being rejected: "I don’t want to feed negative ideas".  Balkenende also expects D66 will see that it is in everyone's general interest that they approve the accord.

D66 lost an important vote in the Senate last week, scuttling its plans to introduce direct mayoral elections. It then demanded and won policy concessions from its CDA and Liberal VVD coalition government partners, resulting in a new coalition accord being agreed between the three government parties.

If D66 members reject the accord this weekend, the cabinet will almost certainly collapse. This will put new D66 Government Reform Minister Alexander Pechtold — who replaced Thom de Graaf this week after De Graaf resigned in reaction to the Senate vote — out of job, along with every other government minister.

Other ministers said on Friday they shared Balkenende's confidence of a positive outcome in The Hague on Saturday.

Transport Minister Karla Peijs asserted that it the vote will "definitely go well". Her Liberal VVD colleagues, Johan Remkes at the Interior Ministry and Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm, said they had "full faith" that the cabinet would still be in power next week.

But Balkenende criticised a call on Friday from public broadcaster NCRV for D66 members to vote against the accord.
 
"You can question whether it's wise for a public broadcaster to involve itself in a political discussion about the position of the cabinet," he said.

The NCRV placed an advertisement in national newspapers 'NRC', 'De Volkskrant' and 'Trouw' urging the D66 to reject the accord. It feared plans for public broadcast reform agreed on in the accord placed the future of public broadcasters at threat.

But the broadcaster later apologised and Balkenende — a former deputy chairman of the NCRV — said that this was sufficient indication of the appropriateness of the NCRV's actions. D66 Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst also criticised the NCRV.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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