GroenLinks pulls plug on Jolande Sap – What the papers say

Jolande Sap has resigned as leader of GroenLinks after a vote of no confidence from the party leadership less than two years after she took over from Femke Halsema. Sap, who pledged her party would go from ten to twenty seats, had to stand by while it nosedived to four at the last election. What went wrong? What the papers say.

NRC thinks there have been three critical moments in Sap’s career: the Kunduz mission, the so-called ‘plug incident’, and Tofik Dibi’s leadership challenge.

Sap faced a momentous decision early on when GroenLinks support turned out to be crucial for the police mission in Afghan province of Kunduz. Sap decided to support the mission, much to the disgust of many GroenLinks members, the paper writes.

Not plugged in

The plug incident which ‘will follow her to her grave’ saw Sap demonstrating literally how Geert Wilders should pull the plug on the cabinet. It prompted Wilders to say that Sap had clearly never been ‘quite plugged in’ herself and however sound Sap’s arguments may have been, they were overshadowed by her ill-judged antics with a piece of electrical equipment.

Tofik Dibi’s challenge, which was won by Sap, was a sign that her position wasn’t as safe as was previously thought, NRC says.

The same paper has a tweet from an apparently disgusted former GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema saying: ‘Well, party leadership, don’t bother to call me’.

Tofik Dibi tweets to say he doesn’t know whether he is the right person to comment but then tweets on to say he is ‘sad’ and that ‘this is no way to treat people for a party that wants a democratic, social and just society’. Most other politicians regret Sap’s demise.


The Volkskrant comments that ‘the party leadership is as responsible for the GroenLinks collapse as Sap’. ‘She was too far ahead of the troops. The voters couldn’t keep up. Kunduz became a liability.

From the summer of 2011, GroenLinks went from one incident to another. Mariko Peters became embroiled in a scandal and the parliamentary party was absent during a debate on the euro. GroenLinks became known as the anarchistic beach party. Then came the distinctly unsavoury battle for the leadership. ‘The spring accord saw a brave Sap make the best of things but the voters remained unconvinced’, the paper writes.


The party leadership steered an incomprehensible course at the time of the leadership challenge and should share part of the blame. Party chairwoman Heleen Weening for one could lead the way by resigning herself, the paper writes.

In a comment in Elsevier, Eric Vrijsen agrees. He writes that ‘chairwoman Heleen Weening, who seemed to have no grip on Dibi at all, should have packed her bags before Sap’. Vrijsen also thinks the party’s downturn was caused by GroenLinks ‘swerving to much to the right’, a trend started by Femke Halsema and intended to get them out of the ‘eternal opposition benches’. But the voters weren’t happy.

There is a lesson in this for Samsom who is also cosying up to the right, Vrijsen writes. ‘Left wing parties don’t swerve to the right without paying the price.’



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