MP Monasch leaves Labour party; keeps parliamentary seat

Parliamentarian Jacques Monasch left the PvdA and cancelled his membership to the paryt, he announced on Monday afternoon. He is, however, holding on to his seat in parliament, NU.nl reports.

"I do this with a lot of grief. I've been a member of the PvdA since I was 16. I worked in all conres of the country for the party. But I think that the PvdA should be loyal to itself and show itself respect. They are now going a way that I can no longer take because i think we should be an open party, especially now that things are so difficult", Monasch said, according to the newspaper. 

According to Monasch, he is leaving the PvdA because the party is not complynig to agreements. He feels the party leaders should make it possible for non-members to vote in the election for new party leader, which Monasch was in the running for until Monday. Non-members can become a temporary member for 2 euros, but according to Monasch they are then a member for a whole year and have to give a month's notice if they want to leave.

He is also unhappy that he could not affect the election campaign, unlike the other candidates for PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher and Diederik Samsom. The fact that he could adjust the campaign with amendments is not enough for Monasch.

Finally Monasch does not agree with the PvdA's decision to help the government try and find a compromise for the association agreement between the Ukraine and EU, because te party previously stated that it would respect the "no" outcome of the referendum on the agreement. 

With Monasch' departure, the coalition of PvdA and VVD now only has 75 of the 150 seats in parliament and thereby no longer an automatic majority. This does not mean an automatic disaster. The coalition hasn't had a majority in the Senate for some time, but often manages to get support from the opposition parties. And elections are less than six months away.

A spokesperson for the party board told NU.nl that it is up to the board to determine the rules for the party leader election. He added that htere is indeed a level playing field and that the board tried to convince Monasch to not withdraw. "It is unfortunate that he threw in the towel", the spokesperson said.

Party leader Diederik Samsom called Monasch' decision to leave unfortunate, but not surprising. "He already indicated that he wants to go a different direction than what the PvdA is now going." Samsom said, according to the newspaper. According to him, Monasch could have made an effort to change the PvdA's direction if he wanted to. "We are a democratic imember party. Each member can testify to that. Especially if you want to become leader it seems worthwhile to me, but he apparently drew a different conclusion."

PvdA chairman Hans Spekman was not so diplomatic. On television program Pauw he called it cowardly that Monasch turned his back on the party, but is holding on theo his parliamentary seat. He also called Monasch a "mini-dictator", if he decides to start his own party, RTL reprots. Monasch should have given his seat back to the party, Spekman thinks. "That he keeps the seat with 2,200 preferential votes, says much to me. I think that's cowardly."

Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) responded laconically. From Ghent Rutte said that the cabinet never automatically has the majority in the Senate and therefore relies on the "strength of arguments". Until the elections, that will just be the case in parliament as well, Rutte said. 

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