This is a cartoon of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The political poster of Rutte‘s VVD party on the left side of the cartoon says: ‘Don’t solve problems, take money from poor people. VVD. Care. For your own greed‘.
VVD pro-‘free market’ policies are similar to the Conservative party in Britain (officially, they are a sister party of the Liberal Democrats, junior partners of the Conservatives in the British government); though they lack the Conservatives’ links to the religious Right.
Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:
Pressure on VVD leaders about position of MP Verheijen
The pressure on the party leadership about the position of Member of Parliament Mark Verheijen is increasing. Many VVD members wonder why he ‘gets special protection’, NOS heard.
The VVD supporters outside The Hague do not understand why Verheijen may remain as an MP: “Disgraceful that the party covers this up. Some people have been sacked for lesser scandals.” …
Verheijen two days ago was discredited when daily NRC wrote that he had claimed thousands of euros too many as expenses when he was a county executive member in Limburg province. Verheijen says it was a smaller amount [than what NRC wrote]. But he acknowledged: “I’m a politician, not a saint” and promised to repay the money.
VVD parliamentary party leader Zijlstra took his side: “The story is simply inflated.” “Verheijen will pay back everything. I feel the story is very much exaggerated”, Prime Minister Rutte added as VVD party leader.
Limburg people Verheijen and former councilor and senator Jos van Rey know each other well. In 2012, when Van Rey and his business partner Piet van Pol had been discredited, Verheijen went to dine with them, as NRC revealed.
The meal cost 2631 euros, including wine bottles of 127 euros each. Van Pol paid this with his credit card. Verheijen said this week that such amounts do not fit into the austerity required from an official.
Unrest and anger
In the days after the debate flared up within the VVD, including the VVD MPs. Then yesterday the question was asked why Verheijen may stay, while MP Leegte was sacked immediately as spokesperson on gas when he had been calling aloud while in the train.
Political reporter Wilma Borgman: “I notice a lot of unrest and anger in the grassroots of the party. Especially the extent to which Verheijen gets special protection. An important consideration is that the VVD does not want damage in the run up to the provincial elections. I hear that MPs who have to deal with benefits claimants are wondering how to explain this to people on benefits.”
The VVD in May 2013 wrote an integrity code in response to the commotion about Van Rey, who is under criminal investigation for corruption. Verheijen was heard as a witness in the corruption case against Van Rey and Van Pol. He denies himself to be guilty of conflict of interest.
Political reporter Wilma Borgman: “The issue of Van Rey, where also Verheijen is indirectly involved, now plays an important role, it would not surprise me if at this moment there are talks with Verheijen on his position.”
Update: Prime Minister Rutte keeps defending Verheijen. The party branch in Menaldumadeel in Friesland province demands that Verheijen should be sacked. They say Verheijen does not only damage the VVD, but all politics in the Netherlands.
The VVD youth organisation criticises Rutte on the Verheijen scandal: here.
Limburg business Taurus sues Verheijen about corruption: here.
Verheyen organised VVD propaganda rally at flower exhibition’s expense: here.
UPDATE: Verheijen resigns as MP.
See also here.