Group Brinkman – What the papers say

Hero Brinkman’s tortured relationship with Geert Wilders has finally come to an end: he is going solo. But he’s thinking big already: his one-man parliamentary party will be called Group Brinkman. What the papers say.

The Volkskrant has an interesting portrait of Brinkman. The former policeman, nicknamed ‘the Rambo of the Bellamy’ because of his tough stance on squatters in the Amsterdam neighbourhood, once said: ‘There’s nothing better than to find the scum that’s been trying to hit you when you were in the front line and whack them properly during the charge. And it’s all within the boundaries of the law.’
These bullying tactics also marked the politician, the paper writes. Brinkman became a PVV MP in 2006 and steadily rose in the ranks. His drunken rant at press bar Nieuwspoort and an attempt to evade being breathalysed by the police did not lose him the support of Geert Wilders but he was relegated to the eleventh place on the electoral list.
That one man’
‘Brinkman adores Wilders’, the paper quotes sources close to the politician. But he hates what the party is becoming. He has been towing the party line but didn’t really agree on several of the PVV’s controversial stances, such as the double passport issue, the head scarf ban and the ‘shop an eastern European’ website. Most of all, Brinkman wants the PVV to be a party like any other: democratically run and not centred around ‘that one man’, the paper writes.
In an analysis, the Volkskrant says that the prime minister’s list of people whose toes he can’t afford to tread on is getting longer and longer. There’s the new PvdA leader Diederik Samsom who has made clear he will not be the cabinet’s poodle and now Brinkman has made off with the one seat that meant a majority for Rutte. ‘To an outsider, the tangled web of dissidents, official supporters and informal supporters the prime minister has woven around his cabinet is impossible to unravel’, the paper writes.
The paper does not believe that Brinkman, in spite of his protestations to the contrary, will prove to be a reliable partner. But Rutte’s main headache will be Wilders. If Brinkman lures voters away from the PVV, Wilders will have to show what he is made of, the paper writes. And that would mean that Wilders may not go for the compromises that the cabinet has up its sleeve in its search for the missing billions.
Unravelling wire
Trouw thinks the prime minister’s iron-clad optimism in the face of this latest setback may be justified but only if Brinkman’s promise to support ‘the best cabinet for the country’ holds any water. If Rutte manages to hammer out an accord – and the signs are that this will take a long time yet – will he have to go to Hero Brinkman to see what he makes of it?, the paper wonders. ‘Rutte is balancing on an unravelling wire while juggling lots of balls’, it writes. He will have to keep an eye on Wilders, Brinkman, the unofficial supporters at the SGP and the CDA dissidents Ferrier and Koppejan who, like the SGP, don’t want to cut back on development aid, the paper concludes.
Pipe down
Elsevier thinks Brinkman protests too much. ‘Who was it that demanded a public transport head scarf ban?’ it wants to know. And now Brinkman is saying the Polish website is denigrating. But Brinkman can’t have it both ways, Elsevier writes. ‘You can’t be part of a protest party and be politically correct at the same time’. The paper is suspicious about Brinkman’s timing as well. ‘Brinkman protested against the site in a leaked email. But by then the site had been up and running for weeks, He wasn’t in that much of a hurry to denounce it. Brinkman insisted his mail be discussed in the parliamentary party immediately but Wilders wanted to postpone the debate until after an accord on the cutbacks had been reached. Brinkman then slammed the door shut’, the paper writes.
Elsevier suggests that Brinkman’s defection from the PVV was in fact prepared in advance. ‘The fact is that Brinkman had been in email contact with PVV rival Rita Verdonk for some weeks. The fact is that he had also enlisted the support of at least three Noord Holland provincial council members and caused a rift in the party.’ Brinkman should pipe down, the paper says because he may have a seat but he only got where he is now because of Wilders.

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