Verdonk accused of insulting talk in VVD race

5th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

5 April 2006, AMSTERDAM — The contest within the Liberal Party (VVD) to pick an election leader heated up on Wednesday when junior Education Minister Mark Rutte accused his main opponent, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk of engaging in histrionics.

5 April 2006

AMSTERDAM — The contest within the Liberal Party (VVD) to pick an election leader heated up on Wednesday when junior Education Minister Mark Rutte accused his main opponent, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk of engaging in histrionics.

"It is insulting to the [VVD] members that have to make an informed choice. I am not going to start mudslinging, but it is nonsense and damaging for the VVD," Rutte told RTL Nieuws on Wednesday.

He was responding to Verdonk's claim that her "decisiveness and clarity" separated her from him.

The 40,000 members of the Liberal Party will elect a 'lijsttrekker' (election leader) in May for the general election next year. The choice is between Rutte, Verdonk and MP Jelleke Veenendaal, a total outside chance.

Last week Verdonk - who previously said she would not be a candidate - surprised everyone by announcing she was thinking of changing her mind.

Confirming her candidacy during a press conference on Wednesday, she repeatedly emphasised she "makes good on promises", a clear suggestion initial favourite Rutte does not.

Verdonk has thrilled the right-wing of the party with her tough immigration policies and insistence that newcomers integrate by learning Dutch and by accepting Dutch norms and values.

The minister told the press conference she is neither left-wing nor right-wing. Stressing these definitions are outdated anyway, Verdonk said she "steers a straight course".

Her main motivation for running for the leadership position, she said, is to prevent the Netherlands getting a "disastrous left-wing cabinet", made up of the Labour Party (PvdA), green-left party GroenLinks and the Socialist Party (SP) next year.

Despite this, she seemed to suggest she would be open to the idea of participating in a coalition government with the Labour Party. Verdonk said she relishes the opportunity of engaging in a public debate with her fellow candidates.  

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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