Verhagen has no ambition to lead CDA

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Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen has said in an interview with current affairs magazine he does not want to become leader of the Christian Democrats CDA. He said, “I am stuck with an image that keeps on being used against the CDA.”

Since Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende left office and various senior figures in the party left politics before the last elections, the Christian Democrats have been left without a clear leader. Mr Verhagen shares responsibility for leading the party with chairperson Ruth Peetoom and the parliamentary party leader Sybrand van Haesma Buma. However, Mr Haesma Buma does not intend to stand in a leadership race either.

Wounds Mr Verhagen’s statement is intended to make way for a new leader and end divisions in the Christian Democrat party. After the last elections in 2010, the party was divided over joining the minority coalition government supported by the anti-Muslim Freedom Party. At a party conference a year-and-a-quarter ago, only two-thirds of the party members voted in favour of joining the coalition. But the wounds have not properly healed, as one of the party’s main policies is freedom of religion and the Freedom Party endeavours to stop what it calls the “Islamisation of the Netherlands”.

In the interview, Mr Verhagen says, “My candidature would be an excuse for those who want to discuss the party course to drag the issue up again and again.” He thinks an elected leader would make the party stronger.

New leader Nevertheless, it will be some time before the party has a new leader, because according to Mr Verhagen leadership elections would only take place in a couple of years time ahead of a general election. Until then he and Ms Peetoom and Mr Haersma Buma will continue to lead the party. nc

 Radio Netherlands Worldwide


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