Lodewijk Asscher does not become a leader of the PvdA. In a statement on Facebook, he states that he is withdrawing as candidate candidate. It was planned that the members would finally appoint him at the party conference this weekend. That congress is now being postponed.
Asscher says that the PvdA is essential for a fairer future. But according to him, the discussion about his person does not make it possible for him to be a leader. He does finish his term as a member of parliament, but he immediately stops as a group chairman and after the elections he does not return as a member of parliament. Lilianne Ploumen is now taking over his role as group chairman.
Recently Asscher has been under attack with a part of his own party because of his role in the payment affair. In the previous cabinet, he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Social Affairs, and therefore he has co-responsibility for what went wrong.
Motions on Asscher
Moreover, the result of the vote on two motions on Asscher‘s position was announced this morning. The members of the Labour Party have been able to express their views on this recently. A vote of no confidence against Asscher was rejected by Francisca Drijver, but received support from 33% of voters. 57% voted against that motion and 10% abstained.
The motion on support for Asscher by Pieter Paul Slikker (group chairman in Den Bosch) was adopted with 60 percent for, 31 percent against and 9 percent blank. According to insiders, these figures may not have been very convincing for Asscher in his decision.
Check out the statement of Asscher:
Asscher emphasises that he did not know that the Tax Administration has opened an “illegal hunt on thousands of families”. He’s apologized before for his role. In today‘s statement, he says that “democracy is more served by self-reflection than by brutal indignation.” He stresses that he himself has adapted various laws because they went too far in the fight against fraud and that he has worked towards a better system of childcare allowance.
Asscher accepts it “when people criticize what he has done as minister or if they are disappointed in what he has achieved.” But he believes that his integrity should not be questioned and he stresses that he has always defended the rule of law. According to Asscher, the payment affair is a “consequence of decades of stacked mistrust”. He speaks of “a human image that has made the government hostile to its own inhabitants”.
In his statement Asscher also deals more generally with democracy: “We should never take it for granted. (…) Do not underestimate the damage of the conspiracy theories, bashing our democracy or the coffee populism in which talkshow tables are delivered on the elite and power. That does much more damage than anyone sees. Whether it’s the Capitol or the county house of Groningen being stormed, it‘s not worth laughing.”
At the end of his statement Asscher says that he looks forward to “serving society in a different way at a different time in another place.”
Security of existence
According to SCCEIT reporter Wilco Boom, Asscher’s departure is a tragedy for the PvdA. “He is the man who has brought the party back to a more classical socio-democratic course in which everything revolved around the notion of security of existence. This is also clearly visible in the new electoral programme. Everyone in the party agreed with that course.”
Boom further points out that Asscher is a good debater and “one of the few in the Chamber who really can handle Rutte”.