Gerd Leers: Lame duck or sitting pretty? What the papers say

Integration and immigration minister Gerd Leers (CDA) hasn’t had a good week. First there were the rumours of an attempt by Wilders to have him removed from his post and then the minister put his foot in it himself. What the papers say.


Embarrassment
In an editorial, Trouw writes that Leers is clearly not the right person for the job. ‘In spite of the agreement with parliament, Leers chose to stir up the Mauro case during a visit to Angola last week. His defence afterwards in parliament – that it was all a misunderstanding – was unconvincing and an embarrassment’, the paper writes. Trouw is referring to the minister’s chat with a Trouw journalist in which he said Mauro would have to leave the country once he has finished his education. Leers insisted that he had been talking about young asylum seekers in general and accused the journalist of twisting his words. ‘As usual Leers questioned the quality of the journalist’, Trouw fumes. ‘He would have done better if he had admitted his mistake. This is just more evidence that Leers is not up to the task.’
Sensitive
The Volkskrant, which published the news that Geert Wilders had demanded Leers’ head only to be faced with indignant denials from Wilders himself and prime minister Rutte, also stands accused of journalistic incompetence. The paper won’t have any of it, however. ‘We knew this would happen. Wilders wanted Leers out but the others refused. This is a very sensitive issue, especially at a time like this when major decisions have to be taken. It would be too embarrassing and obviously it was deemed best to deny the whole thing ever happened’, the paper writes.
Journalist Frènk van der Linden thinks it may be a ploy be the CDA to make Leers’ position stronger. They can hardly get rid of him now, he opines.
Impossible
Both papers admit that Leers is in an impossible position. The PVV has repeatedly clashed with Leers who said immigration was an enrichment of society (‘nonsense!’ tweeted Wilders) and who also distanced himself from the PVV anti Poles website. It wants Leers to be much tougher on immigration while Leers’ own party voted for a more humane immigration policy at the party congress last year. If the PVV gets its way and Leers would be forced to stand down after all, it could be ‘a proud moment’ for Leers: ‘The PVV is capable of asking for the impossible and unacceptable’, Trouw writes. Leers should show some backbone and stop blabbing about Mauro, the paper concludes.
Leers is right
Elsevier thinks Mauro should be blabbed about and with good reason, the paper writes. ‘Mauro is not entitled to stay in the Netherlands because he doesn’t comply with the norms and never has. Angola was and isn’t so dangerous that asylum seekers from this country are automatically given a residency permit. He could have been sent back in 2003 when the Netherlands opened a home for youngsters like him in Angola’, the paper writes.
Elsevier says Leers is right about Mauro but his presentation of the facts leaves something to be desired.


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