VVD comes down hard on Verdonk

The idea of setting up of a special committee to look at the consequences of the huge number of preferential votes won by immigration minister Rita Verdonk in last week’s general election was rejected by her Liberal VVD party during an emergency meeting tonight.

The snub came just hours after an upbeat Verdonk announced her proposal for the committee at a press conference in The Hague.
Speaking to the press immediately after the meeting of VVD MPs tonight, party leader Mark Rutte –Verdonk’s arch rival – said Verdonk’s position within the VVD had been extensively discussed.
Verdonk ‘accepts that I lead the party and she is number two,’ said Rutte, adding that the personal relationship between him and Verdonk remains good. He declined to give details saying that the discussion of Verdonk’s behaviour over the last 24 hours was an internal party affair.
Rutte and Verdonk have been embroiled in a power struggle which has threatened to tear apart the VVD since the spring. In April VVD MPs voted Rutte rather than Verdonk to lead the party into the elections.
But the VVD lost almost a quarter of its seats in last Wednesday’s elections. Yesterday it emerged that Verdonk had won 67,000 more preferential votes from VVD supporters than Rutte. At her press conference earlier this evening, Verdonk said this was a ‘unique’ situation and made her position ‘impossible’.
Many commentators saw her performance and her plan to set up a commission to look at her position within the party as an attempted coup and felt it seriously weakened Rutte’s leadership.

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