Labour leader critical about PM Rutte's leadership

Lodewijk Asscher (Photo: Commons)Lodewijk Asscher (Photo: Commons)

PvdA leader and Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher is critical of the way in which VVD leader Mark Rutte led the Netherlands as Prime Minister over the past years. Rutte was not a Prime Minister for all Dutch, he said in an interview with

"What I mean is that I think he could have been more explicit when people were offended by [PVV leader Geert] Wilders. I find he acted too slowly on that", Asscher said. "I've noticed that people need a voice in politics. Many Muslims don't bother much with what Wilders says, they know him by now, but they expect a reply. I have to note that Rutte was often silent."

Asscher continued that Rutte only selectively performed his normative task as prime minister. "You have a task to normalize, and not just when it suits you."

According to Asscher, Rutte only responded to Wilders "fewer Moroccan" statements after Asscher prompted him.  The PvdA leader is referring to statements made by Wilders during a previous election campaign in The Hague. He asked a group of people whether they want "more or fewer Moroccans" in The Hague and the Netherlands, to which the crowd chanted "fewer, fewer, fewer". In December the PVV leader was convicted of hate speech for these statements, though he received no punishment.

Despite the polls placing the PvdA in 7th place, with between 11 and 13 seats, Asscher still believes his party has a chance of winning this election, happening next week Wednesday. "If you take into consideration that only in these last days the question 'Who do I trust?' will come into play. And 'Who are the people who can do it, who proved to stay calm when things are stressful?' That can work to our advantage", he said to the newspaper.