The decision by Lodewijk Asscher to renounce the Labour leadership because of his role in the childcare benefit scandal has been met with dismay by party members and support from others, broadcaster NOS reports.
MP Lilianne Ploumen, currently deputy leader of the parliamentary party, said she had only heard about Asscher’s resignation on Thursday morning. ‘It is definitely a blow. I am shocked,’ she commented. Ploumen refused to be drawn about who might succeed Asscher as leader.
Her name, that of EU commissioner Frans Timmermans and Rotterdam mayor Achmed Aboutaleb are among those in circulation.
Parliamentary chairwoman Khadija Arib, who is second on the list of potential PvdA MPs, said Asscher’s move was ‘terrible, unnecessary and unjustified’ but said it was too early to speculate on the consequences. ‘We first have to recover from the fact that we have lost a great colleague,’ she said.
Party chairwoman Nelleke Vedelaar said Asscher had been instrumental in transforming the party and that he had ‘opposed the indecent choices’ made by the third Rutte cabinet with enthusiasm. Vedelaar said she will comment shortly on how the party will proceed.
Prime minister Mark Rutte, whose cabinet will decide on Friday if it will have to go as well as a result of the scandal, said he would always value Asscher’s ‘great contribution to our country’. Asscher was deputy prime minister and social affairs minister during Rutte’s second term.
GroenLinks leaer Jesse Klaver praised Asscher for his ‘courage and integrity’ while D66 leader Sigrid Kaag expressed her admiration for ‘the dedication with which Asscher served the country and the city of Amsterdam [as social affairs chief]’. ChristenUnie MP Gert-Jan Segers said he would miss ‘a talented politician’.