Rutte has support of VVD
17 September 2007, VELDHOVEN - Mark Rutte may continue as Liberal VVD faction leader in Parliament and no longer has to worry about Rita Verdonk, who has made things difficult for him over the past year.
17 September 2007
VELDHOVEN - Mark Rutte may continue as Liberal VVD faction leader in Parliament and no longer has to worry about Rita Verdonk, who has made things difficult for him over the past year.
This is the outcome of the VVD conference which was held in Veldhoven on Saturday. Rita Verdonk is expected to remain in Parliament, but not as part of the VVD faction. Verdonk, who did not attend the conference, wanted to wait until after the conference before announcing her decision on her political future. Her adviser Ed Sinke said it is "not likely" that she will leave politics altogether. Verdonk's final decision, whether to relinquish her seat to the VVD, set up a new party or continue as an independent, is expected sometime on Monday.
A motion calling on Rutte to resign as faction leader was rejected with two-thirds of the votes. Rutte was supported by the party executive in the power struggle with Verdonk. A motion to force the party executive to resign was rejected by 52 percent of the votes.
A motion was adopted calling on Rita Verdonk to remain a member of the VVD party however. In order to do so she would have to relinquish her seat in Parliament to the party. Prominent party member Hans Wiegel said after the conference that it was now up to Verdonk whether she was willing to talk with the party. He was not optimistic about Rutte's future. "The problems have only become greater."
The VVD faction said on Saturday that it would not accept any attempts at mediation with Verdonk. Rutte said the decision to expel her from the faction was "irreversible." Time and again Verdonk had criticised the party in violation of agreements with Rutte. "Enough is enough," Rutte said. There was no point in "muddling along any further."
After the conference there was a sense of relief among VVD faction members, but the mood was not happy. "I don't see this as a victory," said Mark Rutte. Although the majority agrees that there cannot be two captains on the VVD ship, the departure of Verdonk, who won a lot of votes for the party, was painful.
Former minister Henk Kamp, named by Rutte's opponents as a possible new party leader, said on Saturday that he was not interested. He voiced his support for Rutte and said after the meeting that Rutte had the "broad support" of two-thirds of party members.
VVD MPs Fred Teeven and Charlie Aptroot, who were opposed to the expulsion of Verdonk, have since announced that they will remain in the VVD faction in Parliament. Both reconsidered their faction membership after the events of last week.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]
Subject: Dutch news