Ruling party an uninformed mafia with its head in the sand: opposition leaders
Opposition parties are accusing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the VVD of putting fellow party members above the law, concocting a plan to keep former Justice Minister Opstelten in office, damaging the citizens' trust in the government and misleading the Netherlands as a whole, in the parliamentary debate on the deal then-prosecutor Fred Teeven made with drug criminal Cees H. in 2000.
The Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, is first talking with Minister Ard van der Steur and State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice and then Prime Minister Mark Rutte, instead of the other way around as is customary, according to the Volkskrant's live blog on the debate.
ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers was the first to have his say. "As Kamer we can only continue working with confidence in the government if we are properly and fully informed. There is doubt about everything and doubt is fatal", Segers said. Opstelten misinformed the Kamer about the amount involved in the deal, he opted to investigate the matter internally instead of independently and VVD parliamentarians - Van der Steur and Dijkhoff, now Minister and State Secretary of Security and Justice - took part in the press release regarding the scandal. "Why did these MP's, now minister and secretary of state, see it as their monitoring duty to test and strengthen the minister's line of defense?"
SP leader Emile Roemer accused the VVD officials of "doing everything they can to keep the truth under wraps". He also denounced Dijkhoff and Van der Steur's involvement in the truth concealing press release. "It seems that this Prime Minister was busier with protecting his party members than the law", Roemer said. "The people's trust in the government, in politics and in the law was damaged. That must affect the Prime Minister deeply. He will have to make a convincing start to restore it."
"From the moment that Minister Opstelten concocted the amount of 1.25 million guilders, the VVD machine had only one goal: keeping Opstelten afloat", according to CDA leader Sybrand Buma. He cannot believe that Van der Steur and Dijkhoff was involved in the truth hiding campaign and then promoted, adding that things like this did not happen when the CDA was part of the cabinet. "Contacts between ministers and MPs, yes, but MPs rewriting the truth, no. No way!" he said. "The prime minister is not the guardian of the VVD interest. A good prime minister is the guardian of the law."
According to SGP leader Kees van der Staaij, the VVD has an "ostrich attitude" about hiding their heads in the sand.
"What a disappointment, what a letdown. The Netherlands was massively mislead." PVV leader Geert Wilders started. He pointed to all the same things the other opposition parties did. "MPs helped cover up events and moments later the themselves had seats in government. Kamer President, also a VVD'er, sent a letter from a whistle blower through the shredder. And VVD minister Schippers called it a conspiracy theory, because naturally it is the fault of others and not the VVD", he said. "It looks like a big Mafia family with Mark Rutte in the role of Don Corleone. While the Prime Minister looks the other way, more and more VVD'ers find a horse head in their beds. Opstelten, Teeven, Van Miltenburg. Mr Rutte, when are you stepping down."
D66 leader Alexander Pechtold thinks that this affair damaged both the law and democracy and that those involved created a "cover up atmosphere". A battalion of VVD'ers strained to defend its own interests and to keep things under wraps, according to Pechtold.
VVD leader Halbe Zijlstra started his contribution by wholeheartedly embracing the Oosting-Committee's findings. He came up for his VVD colleagues Van der Steur and Dijkhoff and their involvement in the press release after the story came out that 4.7 million guilders were involved in the deal early this year. According to him it was prudent that the MPs advised not to deny the amount. "If you do not know what the right amount is, it is unwise to deny the Nieuwsuur amount."