Thursday, April 06, 2006

Battle for Dutch Right-wing leadership heats up

The elections in 2007 are getting nearer and battles lines are being drawn.

A few days ago Rita Verdonk of the Liberal-Conservative VVD made her candidacy public for the position of election leader for the 2007 elections (lijsttrekker). The election to become lijsttrekker of the VVD will be held on 31 May and the 40.000 members of the VVD will be able to vote.

The vote contest is between Rita Verdonk, Mark Rutte (English) and Jelleke Veenendaal. Only Verdonk and Mark Rutte are serious candidates. Mark Rutte is the secretary of Education. It is not a position that gives one a clear profile. Verdonk is the hardline minister of Immigration and Intergration. She is a law and order politician, the law is the compass to which she sets her course.

With regards to Immigration and Intergration she has not set her own course, but carries out laws that have been drafted and adopted by Labour politicians. The present immigration laws notably have been drafted (English, third paragraph) by Job Cohen, the present Labour Mayor of Amsterdam. The difference between the Labour politicians and Rita Verdonk is that the latter strictly and narrowly carries out the law, including deporting thousands of asylum seekers.

The clear course that she steers has given her a strong profile and great popularity among that segment of the Dutch population bothered by immigration. She is also very unpopular among people who live in areas not touched by immigration or people who like or benefit from a multicultural society and open borders.

Several of the bosses of the Liberal-Conservative party are coming out against her. She has obviously upset the applecart of the people in charge of the Liberal Conservatives. It seems that her candidacy was a surprise to the old guard of the VVD.

Mrs. Verdonk is trying to positioning herself as a politician "who makes good on her promises". This is clearly a attempt to harvest in the furrow ploughed and sown by Pim Fortuyn. Her promise is credible. It fits her profile. She added to want to "save the Netherlands" from a disastrous Leftist government. This is a fear on the right wing, after the desastrous Municipal elections of March the Seventh which seemed to flow as a red river rising over the low countries.

Mark Rutte responded sharply to the hidden but intended barb against his lack of spine and conviction:
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.
What else could he say?

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