Labour’s Khadija Arib elected as MP leader in Dutch parliament

Khadija Arib
. Khadija Arib (PvdA). Source: Wikimedia/Roel Wijnants

Khadija Arib, PvdA, was elected to succeed Anouchka van Miltenburg as president of the Tweede Kamer, lower house of Dutch parliament, NU reports.

Arib was up against three other candidates: Ton Elias VVD, Martin Bosma PVV and Madeleine van Toorenburg CDA. It eventually took four voting rounds, the last of which was between Arib and Elias. Arib got 83 of the 134 votes.

The new president of the Tweede Kamer thanked the parliamentarians for the confidence they put in her. "I will with full conviction and commitment give this Kamer room and will of course intervene when needed", she said. "It takes a lot of courage to stick your neck out and be a candidate. It brings a lot of publicity, also negative publicity, with it."

If the cabinet remains in place its full term, Arib will be president of the Tweede Kamer until the next parliamentary elections in March 2017.

Arib's candidacy brought some controversy with it. The 55-year-old Moroccan woman took her place in the Tweede Kamer in 1998. She became a recognizable face 10 years later when PVV leader Geert Wilders criticized her for being a member of a council for human rights in Morocco, which gives the king there advice, Elsevier reports. In 2014 a memo leaked in which staff complained about Arib's obnoxious behavior, saying that she had a poor working relationship with several staff members.

Last year she was again in the spotlight when she insisted that she would not accept phrases like "fraudulent parliament", regularly used by Wilders, must not be used in the Kamer. Which triggered Wilders to again attack her on her dual nationality. Given her feelings about this, the parliamentarians wanted to know how much room Arib will give them in debates. She told the Kamer on Wednesday that she will keep an eye on language and intervene with terms like "fraudulent parliament". "Intervention is that you say something, that's all. Freedom of speech is a great thing. You do not tear at that. I never said that something may not be said in parliament."

Wilders criticized her victory on Thursday. "It is a black day for this fraudulent parliament", he said, according to Elsevier.