Wednesday, 24 April 2013 - 14:18
PvdA Turmoil At Hand
A revolt is rising amongst members of Dutch labour party PvdA against the government plan to make undocumented residency a punishable, criminal offence in the Netherlands. A number of party branches and prominent members will ask Labour leader Diederik Samson to break the coalition agreement, to adjust the direction and restore the fundamental party principle of 'the right to a decent life'. Criminalization of illegal residents Supporters of the Hague branch of PvdA are expected to issue a statement to party leader Samson at the coming weekend's party conference, stating in part, "The credibility of our party is under attack if we would deny our principles, values and ideals, as social democrats, by contributing to the criminalization of illegal stay." The memorandum is said to have the backing of the Hague branch's membership, which includes thousands of councilors, mayors, sub-branches and their members, as well as the Young Socialists (JS) A petition that opposes this motion has been signed by, among others, the former ministers Jan Pronk and Hedy d'Ancona, former Chamber President Jeltje van Nieuwenhoven and council groups in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Maastricht. At the time of Rutte I, the nickname of Prime Minister Mark Rutte's first government, PvdA vehemently opposed the criminalization of illegality stated in the coalition agreement. The law would allow for punishments like fines and the jailing of anyone caught in the Netherlands in violation of the law. VVD minister Teeven hopes for a deterrent effect. "The goal is to make illegal residency as unattractive as possible," he said earlier. "Then you get a displacement effect." But in Teeven's own party not everybody is happy with the coalition agreement on this topic. The Hague's Mayor van Aartsen is a declared opponent of the criminalization plan proposed by his own party. Labour leader Samsom agreed during the formation negotiations with this wish of the VVD. It was one of the so-called exchange themes that served as a quid-pro-quo for the two parties to form a coalition government. The Labour Party got the children's pardon for minors in return. From the day one of the agreement, the criminalization of undocumented residents brought unrest in the PvdA. Even when the Labour Congress voted in November in favor of the coalition agreement, a motion was adopted with the view that the plan is contrary to the principle of the party’s own manifest. The JS speak of "a spiteful, degrading measure contrary to human dignity and totally counter-productive in addressing exploitation of illegality". Spekman The board of the party headed by chairman Hans Spekman - as MP he opposed the criminalization - has no plans on buckling to the increasing pressure. "A deal is a deal," Spekmans says. "This topic is also difficult within the board and the fractions in the Houses. Nevertheless, we should keep up with the coalition agreement," says the full board in a voting recommendation to the Congress. "The parliamentary groups still see no room to move." JS-chairman Toon Geenen sees a bad argument in the continual recommendation. Geenen recalls a time when Samsom helped Rutte smooth things over with dissenters in the VVD last autumn. Wanting to see Rutte pay the favor back, Geenen says, "The agreement is broken at every turn. This is a very fundamental issue for us, and no major building block for the government." PvdA member Sander Terphuis, initiator of the petition against criminalization of illegallity, says: "The Labour Party is a democratic party. I sincerely hope that the party will take its members serious. If 90 percent of the members, is against the criminalization and the Board continues to adopt a casual attitude, then we have a problem. Members may withdraw confidence in the administration."