Alexander Pechtold announcing his resignation as leader of centre-democrat D66 during Saturday’s party congress.
ROTTERDAM–Centre-democrat D66 leader Alexander Pechtold is standing down as head of the party and will quit as a Member of Parliament today, Tuesday, he told delegates to the party congress in Rotterdam on Saturday.
There has been mounting speculation that Pechtold would leave after 12 years on the job. He has recently been at the centre of two separate scandals, one involving the gift of an apartment and the other concerning his ex-girlfriend.
“I am leaving the stage,” Pechtold told delegates in his final speech as party leader. He said he had had one aim when he took over the top job in 2006, and that was to get D66 into government.
“I have given everything. It is time for new leadership,” he said. The party, he said, has managed to achieve many of its ideals in the past years and there are now a number of D66 mayors around the Netherlands.
He admitted D66 is not doing well in the opinion polls at the moment, but said: “I am convinced that people will again see that a vote for us is a valuable vote, because don’t forget, we are a stable middle party, a government party.”
When Pechtold became party leader, D66 had just six seats in the 150-seat Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament. It now has 19 seats, but the party’s popularity has plunged since joining the current centre-right coalition.
D66 MPs will vote for a new parliamentary party leader today, but that person will not necessary replace Pechtold as national party leader, and several of the potential candidates for the job are not in Parliament.
Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Kajsa Ollongren and Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag are among the names being touted as Pechtold’s successor.
The relatively young D66 MP Rob Jetten has also been mentioned, as has the party’s foreign affairs spokesman Sjoerd Sjoerdsma. An outside candidate is said to be Boris van der Ham, who resigned as an MP in 2012 and is now an actor, writer and chairman of the Dutch Humanists Association.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Facebook that Pechtold is someone “you can always do business with. Above all, he is a good colleague and extremely nice when it comes to personal contact.”
Labour PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher said Pechtold has “always served democracy. I will miss the sharp debates … but most of all the pleasant cooperation.”
Kees van der Staaij, leader of the fundamentalist Christian SGP, who disagrees with D66 on gay rights, euthanasia and organ donation, said Pechtold is a “thoroughbred politician.” In 2005 Pechtold was asked to become Minister for Government Reform and Kingdom Relations in the second cabinet led by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, following the resignation of fellow D66-member Thom de Graaf. Pechtold accepted the position, and resigned
as party chairman and Mayor of Wageningen the same day that he took office as minister on March 31, 2005.
D66 retracted its support for the Balkenende cabinet on June 29, 2006, and Pechtold resigned as minister on July 3, 2006. He was elected the leader of the D66 on June 24, 2006, after the party’s leadership election of 2006.
He visited the Dutch Caribbean often in his capacity of minister and as member of the Parliament’s Standing Committee for Kingdom Affairs.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/81438-alexander-pechtold-quits-as-leader-of-d66-after-12-years