Poll tips Verdonk to win VVD leadership race

24th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 May 2006, AMSTERDAM — Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is set to win a decisive victory over junior minister Mark Rutte in the race for the leadership of the Liberal party (VVD), an opinion poll has suggested.

24 May 2006

AMSTERDAM — Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is set to win a decisive victory over junior minister Mark Rutte in the race for the leadership of the Liberal party (VVD), an opinion poll has suggested.

BNR News Radio reported on Wednesday that 64 percent of the 40,000 rank-and-file members are voting for 'Iron Rita', the minister who severely antagonised the party's MPs in the Ayaan Hirsi Ali affair.

Rutte, responsible for higher education policy, will only get 33 percent of the vote, according to the poll carried out by e-mail marketing firm Tapps for BNR. Rutte was the initial favourite and is supported by most of the MPs and the executive.

Tapps questioned 31,000 people, of which 370 are members of the VVD. A majority of these members expressed a preference for Verdonk. The third candidate, MP Jelleke Veenendaal, hardly registered.

Director Govert van Eerde of Tapps said the sample is sufficiently representative of the entire party membership.

The 40,000 members of the VVD have been voting by mail, phone or internet over the last few weeks to elect the Lijsttrekker (political leader). The winner will lead the party in the 2007 general election.

Approximately 70 percent of the members have already cast their ballots, with one day to go. The result will be announced in Amsterdam on 31 May.

Senior party officials are worried that a win for Verdonk will split the party because of her abrasive style. Her potential to do this became evident last week when she sent a letter to Hirsi Ali, then a VVD MP, to say she was probably never a Dutch citizen. A native of Somalia, Hirsi Ali lied about her name and age to get asylum in the Netherlands in 1992. She became a citizen five years later.

Hirsi Ali resigned from parliament and announced she was moving to America. Her parliamentary colleagues were furious with Verdonk for what they saw as an election stunt designed to show her decisiveness.

Parliament passed motions calling on her to re-examine the case and to ensure Hirsi Ali keeps her citizenship.

Few Liberal MPs are likely to relish the idea of having Verdonk as their spokesperson and boss after this. Particularly as there are rumours Verdonk's supporters have a blacklist of MPs she has a score to settle with.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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