Does Leefbaar Rotterdam and Groep De Mos embrace DENK?

In Rotterdam, there is serious talk of a coalition with the fighting cocks DENK and Leefbaar. There is also a chance in The Hague that DENK will rule together with Richard de Mos’ party. Leefbaar and Groep De Mos have been in opposition in recent years, even though they were the largest political groups in their city. Both sides appear determined to rule for the next four years. Even with their political arch-rivals.

On Thursday 31 March, it was announced that serious negotiations are underway on a coalition of which Liveable Rotterdam and DENK are a part. Former Rotterdam top official Hermann Jäger held various discussions with party leaders. These discussions led to a preliminary proposal: a lecture with Leefbaar Rotterdam, VVD, D66 and DENK.

The main party Leefbaar decided to rule after many years of opposition

Leefbaar has been the largest party in the city of Rotterdam since 2014. After the local elections on Wednesday 16 March 2022, the party with ten seats again proved to be the largest, followed by VVD (6), GroenLinks (5) and D66 (5). DENK got four seats in the Rotterdam Council. Liveable is determined to rule in the coming period, unlike the previous period.

Four years ago, the formation process was already stuck in the exploratory phase. The left parties, especially the PvdA, did not want to talk to Leefbaar, so the largest party eventually ended up in opposition. It seems that Leefbaar will at all costs join the council and in that way commit itself to a collaboration with DENK, which in combination with D66 and VVD will give a majority of 25 seats. The Rotterdam Council has 45 seats.

DENK and Liveable Rotterdam have been diametrically opposed for years

DENK and Leefbaar are ideologically diametrically opposed. Leefbaar Rotterdam is characterized by a critical view of Islam, immigration and the multicultural society. DENK is committed to these issues and fights racism and discrimination in the city, especially in the field of (alleged) ethnic profiling. Shortly after the Black Lives Matter protests, which also followed the death of black American George Floyd in the Netherlands in May 2020, a confrontation erupted in the Rotterdam Council. Stephan van Baarle (DENK) accused councilor Joost Eerdmans (living at the time) of downplaying racism in Rotterdam.

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In a letter to the editor, which appeared on TPO’s website last Wednesday, March 30, anonymous DENK members would like to point out to their party that Liveable Rotterdam has previously made several statements and bills, ‘which is diametrically opposed to everything, what DENK stands for ‘. For example, the letter writers claim that Tanya Hoogwerf, councilor for Liveable Rotterdam, argued, among other things, for a ‘Moroccan approach’, whereby Moroccans in Rotterdam, according to her, could be profiled ethnically by investigation services. Hoogwerf also argued for the closure of the Islamic University in Rotterdam.

Group de Mos the largest party in The Hague for the second time in a row

In The Hague, Hart became the largest party in The Hague for The Hague / Groep de Mos with nine seats for the second time in a row, followed by D66 (8), VVD (7) and GroenLinks (5). DENK received two mandates. The day after the election, Groep de Mos said it would take the lead in the formation process. That party was also not a member of the previous council, but still wants to rule for the next four years.

In the first weeks after the election, no informant (s) showed up. To make progress, Rita Verdonk, number two on Hart’s list for The Hague / Groep de Mos, went to talk behind the scenes with various parties. In this way, Groep De Mos would skip the formal exploration phase, where an independent scout gives advice on the possibilities for a new college. According to Omroep West, as a result of the exploratory talks, Verdonk would aim for a striking lecture consisting of Hart voor Den Haag / Groep de Mos, VVD, CDA, Party for the Animals and DENK. This combination results in a majority of 24 of the 45 seats. D66, GroenLinks and PvdA have already announced that they do not want to cooperate with De Mos. Richard de Mos mentions the reporting in response to questions from EW ‘All speculation. “Some parties think they will exclude us, but we will do everything we can to get into the city council and implement our program.”

Yesterday, Thursday 31 March, Hart presented two new informants to The Hague / Groep de Mos. Gert-Jan Oplaat, former Member of Parliament on behalf of VVD, and Geerten Boogaard, Professor of Local Government at Leiden University, should investigate the possibilities for a new coalition in The Hague.

Group de Mos and DENK often disagree than agree

De Mos and DENK are also ideological opposites of each other. During a debate leading up to the local elections, it seemed that the two parties still did not come together at all. Nur Icar, party leader in DENK Haag, accused Richard de Mos in a debate about the housing shortage of ‘making scapegoat policy’. According to Icar, De Mos always points to the DENK supporters when it comes to problems in vulnerable areas. De Mos’ party has for years argued for a stop to the ‘influx of underprivileged people’.

In October 2020, Groep de Mos together with VVD supported a proposal from PVV ‘to make combating population growth the goal of policy’. The proposal was based on the claim that the housing shortage is caused by the ‘huge population growth of mainly underprivileged immigrants’. The proposal came under fierce criticism from the parties that agreed to it, including from the PvdA and JOVD, VVD’s youth organization. In recent years, Groep de Mos has regularly adopted proposals that, according to DENK, encouraged Muslim immigrants in the city. The party often made proposals together with the PVV to, among other things, prevent the arrival of Islamic schools and close mosques.

According to reports in AD negotiations on a Rotterdam coalition with Leefbaar and DENK are already well advanced. In The Hague, the coming weeks will show whether the informants Oplaat and Boogaard will involve DENK in the negotiations.

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