The Dutch conservative opposition VVD party has expelled Rita Verdonk from its parliamentary party. This week, in De Telegraaf newspaper, the former minister of Immigration and Integration overstepped the mark by criticising her own party. It wasn’t the first time she’d done so but this time the party bosses decided enough was enough and ordered her out.
As minister, Mrs Verdonk was known the world over for her tough attitude against illegal immigrants. Her international renown was also boosted by her regular clashes with Islamic organisations that, in her view, did not adapt properly to Dutch society.
At a private dinner party last Monday, Mrs Verdonk was quoted as saying that at the moment her party has become ‘invisible’ in the current immigration debate. She feels her tough line from her time as minister – which came to an end last year – has been lost and that something needs to be done to fix that situation, this according to De Telegraaf.
Mrs Verdonk wants her party to stick to a strict anti-immigration policy and is afraid that rival parties will rise in popularity if they are now seen to be taking a tougher stand. The Freedom Party of the controversial nationalist Geert Wilders has been doing just this. Verdonk feels that the issue belongs to her own party, the VVD, and should not be given up easily.
The former immigration minister had clashed several times before with her party leader Mark Rutte and had already been warned that further outbursts would not be tolerated. But despite being kicked out of her party it’s likely she will stay in parliament continuing as an independent one-person party.
During the discussions with her party boss Verdonk apparently said that the remarks that led to the latest row had been taken out of context by the newspaper. But sources within the VVD say they had been reckoning with Mrs Verdonk leaving for sometime because of her repeated criticism of the political direction the party was going in.
Leadership of the party
In May last year Verdonk lost the battle for the leadership of the party to Mr Rutte ever since there have been clashes between the two. Rutte had until now sought to smooth over the cracks but the latest rift has proved a break beyond repair.
For more information: www.radionetherlands.nl