CDA elects new chairman, but is Verhagen party leader?

Candidates for the job of Christian Democratic party chairman are unhappy at the way economic affairs minister Maxime Verhagen is being branded party leader by senior CDA officials, Trouw reports on Monday.

The party is currently without a chairman but will vote on a new one in six weeks time. Nor does the CDA have a formal political leader following the departure of Jan Peter Balkenende.
Defence minister Hans Hillen told the NRC on Saturday that economic affairs minister Maxime Verhagen is the real leader of the party. Junior farm minister Henk Bleker has made similar statements.
But candidates for the chairman’s job say filling that position is the main priority and electing a new political leader will come later.
The statements are ‘premature and unnecessary,’ candidate Jan de Visser told the paper.
And Ronald Zoutendijk said the statements smacked of behind the scenes deals at a time when the party needed to listen more closely to its members.
The CDA, traditionally the biggest party in parliament, was hard hit in both the national and regional elections.
Verhagen lead the CDA’s election campaign last year as acting party leader while Sybrand van Haersma Buma heads the CDA MPs in parliament.

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