Verdonk Decides Against VVD Leadership Challenge (The Netherlands)

Verdonk decides against
VVD leadership challenge
28 November 2006
Expatica News

AMSTERDAM Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk decided against challenging Mark Rutte for the Liberal VVD party leadership on Tuesday.

Verdonk said she had the ambition to become the party's leader, but will not demand the position and will remain loyal to Rutte.

However, she said the party executive must appoint a commission to examine the situation which developed after last week's national elections.

Verdonk won 620,000 preference votes last Wednesday, 60,000 more than Rutte. It was the first time that a lower-ranked politician attracted more votes than a party leader.

The immigration minister said VVD stalwarts Hans Wiegel and Frits Bolkestein should be appointed to the commission.

She said they should investigate what course the party should take in the light of this “unique situation”.

Verdonk started her press conference with the words: “the voter has spoken” and said she was extremely proud of the number of votes she won.

“I see it as support for the policy that I have carried out for the three years,” she said, but stressed that she remained loyal to her party and Rutte.

Verdonk has been the public face of the coalition government's tough stance on immigration and integration, reflecting the Dutch nation's concern over societal divisions.