Dutch politics: the Rules of the Game, and an attempted coup in the VVD

In my continuing series on Dutch politics I present the next background page: The Rules of the Game, in which I discuss government, parliament, elections, and coalitions.

Meanwhile it's mostly quiet on the political front. Right now party leaders are talking about who's going to talk to whom, and this negotiation phase can continue for weeks.

The only raw action came from right-wing VVD last week. It turned out that Rita Verdonk, right-wing minister of Immigration and Integration, who was narrowly defeated by centrist Mark Rutte in the internal VVD leadership elections, had gained more preferential votes than Rutte himself; a very rare occurrence in Dutch politics. (See the new Rules of the Game page for more on preferential votes.)

Strengthened by this, Verdonk attempted an internal party coup against Rutte, but the attempt was badly thought out and badly executed. Verdonk wanted to "discuss Rutte's leadership", but Rutte refused to be drawn in, and other party members, who put unity first, refused to support Verdonk. In the end she became the laughing stock of politically interested Holland, and her chances to return as government minister are now less than zero, even if the VVD would participate in the next government (which it likely won't).

Nonetheless, this coup shows that the leadership question in the VVD has not yet been solved. Would a more strictly right-wing course benefit the VVD more than a centrist one? Verdonk seems to think so (and I tend to agree), but she's badly overplayed her hand, and Rutte is likely safe for a while.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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1 Posted by Malcolm on 4 December 2006 | Permalink

It's sad to read that SP have abandoned republicanism. I guess they must have a few pragmatic bones in their bodies.

2 Posted by Stefan on 6 December 2006 | Permalink

I think SP is simply realistic enough to understand that it is no use to try to get that part of their ideas into action, since it will never get supported by the majority of the government. They have said for a long time that they will always be thinking from that perspective, but that it isn't realistic enough to think that they would actually be able to pull it through.

3 Posted by Malcolm on 7 December 2006 | Permalink

Pragmatism under negotiations is different to a change of platform IMO. PPK wrote: "SP... officially abandoned its republican stance in 2006". That's pragmatism WRT finding voters (i.e. getting elected) as opposed to pragmatism in getting their platform implemented.

4 Posted by Frenzie on 7 December 2006 | Permalink

It barely matters wether it'd be Mark Rutte or Rita Verdonk, both are absolutely horrible.

5 Posted by Gerben on 14 December 2006 | Permalink

Doesn't rita get the point....

Remark for PPK:
Can't read the words left from this comment poster. Sentences start out of the screen...