Will Teeven Survive?

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Thursday is going to be a tough day for Fred Teeven, State Secretary of Security and Justice. He must answer questions in the House about the mistakes which were made under his responsibility and which led to the death of the Russian activist Aleksander Dolmatov.

Dolmatov hanged himself last year in a cell in Rotterdam. He had applied for asylum in the Netherlands and was awaiting a final decision.  However, he was arrested by the police and put in jail. The officers were under the assumption that Dolmatov should be expelled. The Inspectorate Security and Justice noted late last week that error on an error was made in this case.

Members of the government must resign if they lose the confidence of the House.

There are five political mortal sins: A member of government should not mislead the parliament by giving insufficient or incorrect information. The reputation of the Netherlands should not be damaged. There should be no serious crisis of authority because the highest authorities lost the grip on their policy. Integrity must not be at stake. There should be no system errors at issue causing a disaster which is not only attributable to human error.

For the coalition parties, it is a bad time to lose the State Secretary as it comes after the recent euphoria about the social agreement. The government is only recently installed. Discredited politicians usually have to resign only at the end of a term to avoid negative influence on the elections. Additionally, Fred Teeven is not just a State Secretary, but one of ministerial proportions. He is also a figurehead for the law-and-order approach of the VVD.

Teeven (VVD) said earlier he was not thinking about resigning. However, the opposition believes it is far too premature to take that position before the debate. The SP  even thinks that Teeven should keep his honor and leave immediately.

VVD leader Halbe Zijlstra expects a difficult debate and Diederik Samsom of leader of coalition partner PvdA is of the same opinion. Both politicians trust that Teeven will take sufficient accountability in the debate.

However, the opposition party is sharpening the blades. Teeven will have to prove penitent, and he has to make the asylum policy more humane. But even if the opposition holds the motion of no confidence in the  pocket, it remains to be seen whether Teeven himself wants to continue. In a hundred years there has been no politician dismissed by parliament. Those who went chose the honorable way.

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