Verdonk’s attempted Liberal party coup fails

The VVD (Liberal) party appeared on Wednesday morning to have temporarily headed off a leadership crisis after a late night meeting. Last night the party voted against Rita Verdonk’s proposal to let a special committee look at the implications of her victory over party leader Mark Rutte in last week’s election.

Verdonk, number two on the VVD list, took more votes than Rutte. ‘I am, and I will remain the boss,’ Rutte said last night, after a difficult few hours. ‘The rest is now buried.’
Late yesterday afternoon Verdonk said she was behind Rutte but emphasised the fact that she had made no secret of her ambitions to lead the VVD. Her popularity was a vindication of her hard-line policies on immigration and integration, she said. Verdonk, who narrowly lost to Rutte in the leadership race before the election, did not win more than half of the total VVD vote.
Verdonk’s attempted coup dominates today’s newspapers. The Telegraaf says Verdonk is on a collision course with Rutte, but that her takeover attempt yesterday failed. The Financieele Dagblad says the two have taken each other hostage. Rutte cannot do without Verdonk’s popular support and Verdonk cannot risk demanding the leadership job without dividing the party.
‘The Rita dragon loses another head,’ the Volkskrant said. It was now a question of waiting for her third attempt to take over the leadership, the paper commented.

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