‘Unwise’ minister survives emergency debate
9 June 2004
AMSTERDAM — Liberal VVD Education State Secretary Annette Nijs survived an emergency debate in Parliament on Tuesday night, despite being criticised for acting unwisely in her conflict with Christian Democrat CDA Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven.
The junior minister was strongly rebuked by all political parties for giving an interview with magazine Nieuwe Revu indicating that Van der Hoeven did not trust her and withheld information.
“I did not say that the minister played political games and had withheld information,” Nijs said.
But Nijs said she regretted her interview and did not wish to lay accusations against the minister. Instead, Nijs said that she had wanted to say that her relationship with Van der Hoeven was now good, Dutch public news service NOS reported.
The state secretary was unable to explain her poor choice of words. Nijs admitted that the published comments were exactly what she had said, but distanced herself from the message they conveyed. She had not considered resigning over the matter.
The CDA demanded from Minister Van der Hoeven that she confirm her faith in Nijs so that the two could get back down to work. In response, Van der Hoeven said she accepted the apology from Nijs and had faith in their continued working relationship.
Main opposition party Labour PvdA MP, Mariette Hamer, said the state secretary must tread carefully in future because another error will not be permitted. Green-left GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema said Nijs was “politically battered”.
But the opposition parties did not submit a motion of no confidence against Nijs. Instead, they lodged a politically non-threatening motion expressing the Parliament’s dissatisfaction with the incident.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende also condemned the interview, but said after discussing the matter with both education ministry chiefs that he was confident both of them could continue working together.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news