PM questioned about 'disloyal' minister

24th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 January 2006, AMSTERDAM – The Dutch parliament wants to hear what Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende thinks about comments made by a maverick minister about the cabinet.

24 January 2006

AMSTERDAM – The Dutch parliament wants to hear what Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende thinks about comments made by a maverick minister about the cabinet.

Government Reform Minister Alexander Pechtold raised eyebrows in The Hague when he told magazine 'Opzij' "nasty and filthy" tricks are part-and-parcel of Dutch politics.

The council of ministers, he said, is "no social club of friends". Cabinet meetings are "tough" in which machinations, power-games, personal and party interests play an important part.

Parliament backed a motion put forward the LPF party to ask Balkenende to comment about Pechtold's charges.

Pechtold is a member of the junior government party D66. His remarks drew the ire of parliamentary chairman Hans Weisglas, who accused Pechtold of being disloyal. Weisglas advised the maverick minister to buy a one-way ticket back to Wageningen.

Pechtold was mayor of Wageningen before being appointed to the cabinet in 2005.
Since then Pechtold has made a habit of speaking out against government policy and criticising his colleagues, and then apologising.

He and the rest of D66 opposed to the deployment of more Dutch troops to Iraq, only to back down when the possibility of a cabinet crisis began to loom.

Pechtold told 'Opzij' ministers should be able to have robust discussion, such as the one on the Afghan mission. He said ministers had to be very professional to enable them to work together despite the character of their debates. "Meanwhile we are more awful behind each other's backs than you can imagine."

Often referred to as a future leader of D66, Pechtold also revealed he has had numerous talks with party leader Boris Dittrich about taking over at the helm at the next election in 2007.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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