The launch of Rita Verdonk’s Trots op Nederland party is also the start of a new phase in the battle to win the hearts of right-wing voters.
Both Verdonk and her arch rival Geert Wilders set up their own parties – which they prefer to see as ‘movements’ – after leaving the free-market Liberal VVD party. Although less explicit than Wilders on immigration (a halt) and Islam (ban the Koran), Verdonk has made it clear Dutch identity must be protected.
She may be obsessed with getting Imams to shake her hand but Verdonk regards herself as ‘not left, not right but straight ahead’.
Both Verdonk and Wilders claim to be forging a new approach to politics by giving a voice to the man in the street and thumbing their noses at parliamentary traditions.
It’s also interesting to note that they both want to keep the source of funding for their parties secret. This is possible via ingenious legal constructions. Wilders is the only member of his PVV party which raises cash through foundations.
He points out such gifts are tax-deductible. Verdonk has a movement, not a party, and raises money through a limited company and a foundation. It would be refreshing if Verdonk and Wilders promised total openness about their financial sources. The secrecy makes you wonder what they have to hide.
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