The free market Liberal party VVD voted by a two-thirds majority on Saturday not to get rid of parliamentary party leader Mark Rutte for his role in expelling outspoken former integration minister Rita Verdonk.
Some 52% voted no to a similar motion to remove the entire party leadership.
Verdonk was forced out of the party on Thursday after criticising the party’s low profile on the ongoing integration debate.
However, members did pass another motion urging Verdonk to remain a member of the VVD. She is currently considering her political future and it is thought most likely she will keep her seat in parliament and launch her own party.
The conference showed how strongly the party is divided over Verdonk, ANP reported. The paper says party elders such as Hans Wiegel and Frits Korthals Altes back Verdonk, while former finance minister Gerrit Zalm and former EU commissioner Frits Bolkestein support her expulsion.
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