VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz faces support and criticism over PVV

Dilan Yesilgöz shakes hands with Geert Wilders last Friday. Photo: Bart Maat ANP

VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz is coming under criticism from within the party over her decision not to take part in a new coalition “in order to take stock”, Dutch media report.

Former ministers Hans Hoogervorst and Halbe Zijlstra said in a letter to the Telegraaf they felt the VVD should participate fully in a coalition with Geert Wilders’ PVV because “the country needs it”. “The people who are fearful of Wilders can rest easier” if the VVD were to participate, they wrote.

They also warned the formation of a centre-right coalition could fail if the VVD does not participate, and that the blame would be put squarely on the party, resulting in new elections and an even bigger PVV.

However, VVD stalwart Ed Nijpels has applauded the party leader’s decision and said Yesilgöz should explore ways of forming a coalition with the left-wing parties. “Exclude no one, except the PVV,” the AD quoted Nijpels as saying.

Party troubleshooter Johan Remkes said Yesigöz’s decision, which came on the heels of the party’s 10-seat loss, was “untimely and therefore unwise”.  And former VVD MP Ton Elias appeared to favour a coalition with Wilders because the VVD voters who switched to the PVV “want something with Wilders” and “cannot be ignored”.

By contrast, caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte said he thought Yesligöz “is steering the party in the right direction”.

Local VVD parties have also waded in, the Financieele Dagblad said, quoting a letter by the Steenbergen VVD. “Many VVD voters went over to the PVV to prevent a left-wing victory and give a right-wing coalition a chance,” local party leader Tineke Feskens said. “That has now counted for nothing.”

In Cranendonk, local VVD chief Fordy Drieman said the decision “excluded 2.5 million voters without any prior discussion”.

PVV leader Geert Wilders took to social media at the weekend to call Yesilgöz’s decision “incomprehensible”. “The VVD was in a coalition with D66 for years which caused the asylum disaster, then pulled out of the government and now refuses to form a coalition with the PVV to solve it?”, he wrote.

The VVD is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the issue with the party membership.

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