Potential bomb under Dutch cabinet

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The knowledge that former Freedom Party MP Hero Brinkman has about its funding could pose a major threat to its stability and thus to Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet.

In an interview with news website NU.nl, former MP Arend-Jan Boekestijn of the conservative VVD party says Brinkman broke with the Freedom Party line last week by revealing that the party was funded by US lobby firms.

"Suppose it got out to what extent the Freedom Party is supported by the Jewish lobby, or that the foreign policy advocated by Geert Wilders is financed from abroad? I don’t think many people would applaud that.”

Parliament is currently considering a bill which, if passed, would force parties to disclose details about their finances. Boekestijn left parliament in 2009 after talking to the press about a meeting he had with Queen Beatrix. In Dutch politics, all conversations between MPs and the queen are strictly confidential.

Complaints website
Boekestijn argues that Brinkman’s criticism of the Freedom Party’s website where visitors can submit complaints about Polish and other Eastern European workers in the Netherlands is a good example of how Brinkman can make life difficult for Geert Wilders.

"He cleverly exposed Wilders' populist stunt involving the complaints website. It made Wilders lose seats in the polls and forces him to pull more stunts like that just to stay on the ball, which will then be exposed by Brinkman.”

The former VVD MP says this could hurt Wilders and the PVV in the long term: “We have had the Muslims, the Central and Eastern Europeans, and now they will have to come up with something new. However, at some point, this kind of stunt will get really old.”

Caution
However, Hero Brinkman’s hold over his former party leader could eventually work against him, Boekestijn suggests, as great demands will be made on the former Freedom Party MP’s ability to exercise self-control.

"Brinkman will have to be very careful. He cannot create too much distance between himself and Wilders, but not too little either, since that would make him invisible and spell the end of his political career. That calls for a person who is not vain and has a great talent for staying on course. Of course, the question is whether Hero is that kind of person. I think it is going to prove a major challenge”.

(gsh/imm)

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