Socialist Party MP Kant stands for leadership
Marijnissen steps down, Kant steps in as only candidate at the moment…
19 June 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - Socialist Party MP Agnes Kant has announced that she is standing for the party leadership following Jan Marijnissen's surprise announcement that he is resigning for health reasons. Two other potential candidates have withdrawn, leaving Ms Kant the only candidate in the race at the moment.
Ms Kant, who has been an MP for ten years, has regularly deputised for Mr Marijnissen in the past when he has been absent from important debates.
Mr Marijnissen remains Socialist Party chairman and will continue to serve as an MP. The news that 'the great bald leader', as he is known in the party, was standing down came as an unpleasant surprise to many. Mr Marijnissen became parliamentary leader of the Socialist Party 14 years ago when he was one of just two SP MPs and leaves behind a far stronger party.
The SP did startlingly well in the 2006 elections, going from nine to 25 seats. It is now the country's third most powerful party, in terms both of parliamentary seats and membership in the country at large. Its recent explosive growth is largely seen as being at the expense of the Labour Party which is perceived to have moved towards the centre of the political spectrum.
Mr Marijnssen's no-nonsense debating technique was considered a breath of fresh air in what some might describe as the rather staid atmosphere of parliament in The Hague. However, some observers point out that the Marijnissen 'political brand' had begun to lose its market value.
One of the reasons is that he was never able to explain to the SP electorate why, after the enormous gains made in 2006, he so quickly dismissed overtures to join a government coalition. He was also often criticised for being too authoritarian in a party where MPs have to donate part of their salaries to the party and are expected to give up parliamentary seats if told to do so by the leadership.