Rutte expels MP over 'Wilders-ism'
UPDATED 6 September 2006, AMSTERDAM — Liberal Party (VVD) leader Mark Rutte expelled one of his MPs on Wednesday in the first real challenge to his leadership.
UPDATED 6 September 2006
AMSTERDAM — Liberal Party (VVD) leader Mark Rutte expelled one of his MPs on Wednesday in the first real challenge to his leadership.
Sources within the VVD had expected Rutte to ask MP Anton van Schijndel to stand squarely behind the party's election programme or leave the party. Things didn't go to plan as the rebel failed to appear at the meeting.
This forced Rutte's hand and he expelled Van Schijndel from the VVD parliamentary party.
Van Schijndel, who has been threatening in recent days to defect to another party, published an open letter to Rutte criticising key policies.
He said the VVD was not being tough enough on immigration and integration. The party's number two, Rita Verdonk, the minister for immigration and integration, lost the leadership contest to Rutte and her policy area hardly gets a mention in the manifesto.
Rutte's argument that the VVD's views are so well known that it was not necessary has not impressed Van Schijndel.
The MP also wants the VVD to state clearly that it is against Turkey joining the European Union. MP Geert Wilders broke with the VVD on the same issue and he was set up the Party for Freedom to contest the election.
Van Schijndel is one of several Liberal MPs unhappy with a low position on the party's election list. He is in 35th place, while the party may win less than 30 seats. Newcomers have been given higher places on the list.
He is now expected to join the Fortuynist 'Eén NL' Party set up last month by Marco Pastors and LPF MP Joost Eerdmans.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news