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Council member supports Rita Verdonk

20 September 2007 - “You will stay with us, won’t you?” local VVD party leader Eric van der Burg asked Centrum district council member Mark Doorn earlier this week. Doorn is a supporter of right-wing populist Rita Verdonk, who was recently thrown out of the VVD party group in Parliament.

Doorn confirms that the Amsterdam VVD is more progressive than the rest of the party and that Amsterdam party officials tend to support national party leader Mark Rutte rather than Verdonk. Still, Doorn’s fellow party members have no problem with him being a board member of a foundation originally set up to fund Verdonk’s 2006 campaign for the party leadership.

There was a conflict when he invited Verdonk to speak at the Bethaniënklooster in May last year. An announcement was almost immediately removed from the local VVD website, which did feature a link to the weblog of her rival Rutte. Doorn: “I told them: either you re-post the announcement by tomorrow, or the incident will be in tomorrow’s Parool newspaper”. The party decided to re-post the announcement.

While there has been criticism of his support for Verdonk, people do say that he is entitled to his own views on this, Doorn said. He says the Amsterdam VVD is very united and more involved with local issues than with national politics.

Currently, Verdonk-supporters are collecting signatures for a new general meeting at which to reconsider Rutte’s decision to throw Verdonk out of the VVD party group. According to Doorn, quite a few Amsterdammers are willing to sign the petition. He says this includes supporters of Rutte who are critical of how he handled the Verdonk issue.

However, it seems unlikely that the conflict between Verdonk and the party establishment will be resolved. Should Verdonk start a new political movement, as has been suggested, then Doorn would like to be a part of that movement from the beginning. However, he intends to serve his full term as VVD district council member, which will last until 2010.

“I am not aware of any rules that prohibit being a member of two associations”, he said. “As long as I am not politically active in that movement, I don’t think there should be a problem”.

Even though Verdonk does not seem to be very popular in Amsterdam, she did get almost as many Amsterdam votes in the November 2006 elections (18,125) as Rutte (18,960).


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