Plasterk ‘lame duck’ : What the papers say

Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk was blasted by the opposition for misleading parliament about the true state of affairs surrounding the phone tapping activities of the Dutch intelligence services. He survived D66’s motion of no-confidence but did not come out unscathed. What the papers say.

‘Politicians should learn to count to ten,’ writes the Financieele Dagblad in its editorial, implying that Pasterk, who let slip in television newsprogramme Nieuwsuur that he thought American intelligence service NSA was behind the taps, is an impetuous blabbermouth.

The FD’s beef is that the upheaval caused by blundering politicians, four in 18 months, is detracting from what is really important: structural reforms, getting to grips with the crisis and strengthening the economy.

According to Elsevier, Plasterk is ‘a lame duck’. The magazine doubts whether Plasterk’s excuse – revealing the activities of AIVD and MIVD could compromise state security – stands. ‘Denmark and Norway informed parliament and public, and the United States were much less uptight about it then Plasterk and (defence minister) Hennis. (..) Many of the MPs present openly doubted Plasterk’s sincerity and this he will have to live with,’ Elsevier concludes.

NRC heads its editorial with ‘Plasterk stays but should have left’. Not only did he falsely accuse the NSA, he also failed to inform parliament of the true state of affairs. ‘It took a court case to make two ministers admit that it was the Dutch intelligence services that had shared information, which was gathered abroad, with the NSA.’

‘It may be that Plasterk was thinking of the interests of the state but in a parliamentary democracy it is also in the interest of the state for a minister not to give misleading information to parliament and to admit as much when he finds out he has. As it is he doesn’t deserve the confidence of parliament,’ NRC writes.

Volkskrant editor Martin Sommer also thinks Plasterk should have stepped down.  He describes as ‘slippery’ the way Plasterk navigated his way through the barrage of questions put to him by an ‘uncoordinated opposition’.

The reason not to get rid of Plasterk is undoubtedly to save a shaky coalition, hence Diederik Samsom’s anger at D66’s Alexander Pechtold whose motion of no-confidence he interpreted as self-serving, writes Sommer, who concludes that a weak minister has been allowed to stay.




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