Minister puts end to SP payroll scheme; party leader furious
Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs decided to put an end to political party SP's unique payroll arrangement in which the salaries of all SP politicians are paid into the party's account. The Minister agreed with the Dutch municipalities and provinces that they will pay SP salaries directly to the politicians, and he will discuss this with the Eerste Kamer and Tweede Kamer as well. The SP itself is furious about this, RTL Nieuws reports.
"It's political bullying", SP leader Emile Roemer said. SP treasurer Thijs Coppus told RTL that the party will go to court if municipalities and provinces stop the payroll arrangement.
The SP is the only party in the Netherlands to use this unique payment scheme, which was implemented in 1974. Basically it means that SP politicians' salaries are paid into the SP account. The party then pays a lower salary to the politicians. According to the broadcaster, the idea behind this is that the SP thinks everyone should be equal and does not want large income disparities within the party.
Most SP politicians get a maximum salary of 2,750 euros per month. As a result, millions of euros are left over in the party account. Thanks to this payroll scheme, the SP is the richest party in the Netherland.
Plasterk decided to put an end to this scheme following a ruling in a lawsuit filed by the municipality of Noordoostpolder. The municipality refused to cooperate in the payroll scheme and wanted to pay its SP politicians directly. The court ruled in favor of the municipality, saying that the scheme is in violation of Dutch law, according to RTL. Politicians must be able to vote freely, but this payroll scheme makes them financially dependent on their party. While the verdict only applies to the municipality of Noordoostpolder, Plasterk believes that it should also apply to other SP politicians.
According to treasurer Coppus, Plasterk's decision was made on a very narrow basis. "There is a ruling on the municipality of Noordoostpolder, which can not simply be declared applicable to all municipalities, provinces and states-general. The court also did not ban the scheme, but said that the municipality doesn't have to cooperate with it."
Coppus also called Plasterk's action "bullying". "Let him go do things that are really important", he said to the broadcaster. "For us it is clear that the payment arrangement remains, whether the money is first deposited into the account of the party or into those of individual politicians. It's a principle that has broad support in the party and which our members themselves chose."