The decision by VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz not to enter into a coalition with Geert Wilders but take on a supporting role, has divided the party, according to reports of Wednesday’s meeting with 300 members.
The VVD lost 10 seats in last week’s general election and this, Yesilgöz says, means the party should not be in government. A number of prominent VVD politicians, including former ministers, have spoken out against her position, while others have said she is on the right track.
The Financieele Dagblad says Yesilgöz had to to use “all her powers of conviction” to rally the unruly troops and has succeeded in doing so. “At the end of the evening the loudest applause was still for a call to support the parliamentary party lead by Yesilgöz,” the paper said.
“We agree on what we want but we are not all agreed on the way to get it,” the paper quoted her as saying.
According to the Telegraaf, far from calming the waters, Yesilgöz “was having a hard time” at the meeting. “It was by no means the applause-generating machine some had been expecting,” the paper said.
Instead, the paper said, the applause went to Halderberge alderman Thomas Melisse who said “a million and a half voters wanted a centre-right cabinet. That means not just giving support but capable VVD ministers on the steps (for the traditional new cabinet photo with the king),” he said.
The Volkskrant describes the gathering as a successful “appeasement meeting”, and said Yesilgöz had defended a period of reflection for the party on the opposition benches, with the occasional sally in support for Wilders on some issues.
But, the paper says, the likely reason is that the VVD won’t risk participating in a cabinet full of relatively inexperienced people. It points to earlier occasions when the party cooperated with the LPF (2002) and Wilders (2010), and both coalitions fell quickly.
Most of the parliamentary party is also against a deal with Wilders, who they accuse of attacking the rule of law, the VK said. Besides, a supporting role would give the VVD some clout in a minority cabinet, and shelter it from having to compromise, the paper concludes.
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