VVD candidates squabble over debates
18 April 2006, AMSTERDAM — Reminiscent of US presidential elections, Ministers Rita Verdonk and Mark Rutte remain split on the number and type of leadership debates.
18 April 2006
AMSTERDAM — Reminiscent of US presidential elections, Ministers Rita Verdonk and Mark Rutte remain split on the number and type of leadership debates.
Along with rank outsider MP Jelleke Veenendaal, the two ministers are vying to be elected to lead the Liberal Party (VVD) into next year's general election. The person who wins next month's poll of the 40,000 members of the VVD will effectively be the leader of the party.
But the candidates are still arguing about how many debates to hold prior to the leadership election.
Verdonk, the Immigration Minister, indicated on Tuesday that she isn't afraid of the challenge from Rutte. She said she would prefer direct contact with the members rather than repeated debates against Rutte. Three regional debates and two national ones would be sufficient, according to Verdonk.
A few days ago she called for an independent person to monitor the election amid fears the party establishment was against her. Rutte is pushing for 17 debates, to cover each of the VVD's parliamentary regions.
VVD officials are sticking to the promise of eight party meetings to allow the members to decide between the three candidates.
The deadline for candidates to enter the race expires on 20 April, and the debates are due to begin the following week.
Commenting on Verdonk's objection to 17 debates, Rutte said: "I think it is a pity. I have no idea why she doesn't want it, but I am not going to say anything further about it".
Several Liberal MPs have called on the candidates to focus on their political differences rather than the mechanics of the election.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news