Verdonk considers joining VVD leadership race
30 March 2006
AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk revealed on Thursday she is after all considering entering the race to lead the Liberal (VVD) party into the general election in 2007.
When the previous incumbent Jozias van Aartsen resigned after the local elections earlier this month, Verdonk dismissed the idea she would be a candidate to replace him.
But the minister – who prides herself on sticking to her decisions, no matter how controversial – appears to be wavering.
Verdonk said on radio programme ‘De Ochtenden’ she will talk to her family and party members this weekend before taking a decision on whether to run. She said she has been contacted by party colleagues and local branches asking her to be a candidate for the ‘lijsttrekker’ position.
The pressure had grown so great that she is now seriously considering running for the position, Verdonk said. “It is a fantastic honour that so many people have thought of me for the position of lijsttrekker”, she said.
The ‘lijsttrekker’ heads his or her party’s list of candidates during an election campaign. Although not necessarily the party leader, the lijsttrekker is the public face of the party.
If Verdonk runs she will be up against the junior Education minister Mark Rutte and MP Jelleke Veenendaal.
Parliament chairman Frans Weisglas (speaking as a member of the VVD) has already called publicly on Verdonk to challenge Rutte. Weisglas said Rutte is “too much the brother of (Labour leader) Wouter Bos”.
Verdonk is on the right of the party and her tough immigration policies go down very well with the grassroots of the VVD. The public at large is split on Verdonk – people on the left constantly criticise her and those on the right think she is just what the country needs.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news