SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The coalition government has lost its majority in the Lower House after former VVD MP Wybren van Haga confirmed he would be staying in parliament despite being expelled from the party.
Parliamentary group chairman Klaas Dijkhoff accused Van Haga of ‘seat snatching’ when he resisted calls to step down so another VVD candidate could take his place, but the MP said he had done nothing wrong.
‘Fortunately, the fact is that every MP has the right to their own seat. If the constitution said seats belonged to a party, the party leaders would be like directors of a company who can sack MPs whenever they like,’ he told the Volkskrant.
Van Haga was banished from the parliamentary group last month when it emerged that he had broken an undertaking with his party to put his property business at arm’s length.
The party held an inquiry last year following revelations that his company, Sjopperdepop, had breached Amsterdam’s tough rules on renting homes to more than two adults who are not related.
Van Haga was allowed to remain a VVD MP on that occasion, on condition that he was no longer involved in the day-to-day running of the company. However, last month he was accused of ‘aggressively’ contacting tenants who had complained about unauthorised building work being carried out in Haarlem.
He said he would continue to support the coalition government’s plans ‘in 99% of cases’ but pledged to block laws that damaged the interests of entrepreneurs. However, his decision to become an independent means the four-party coalition and the opposition each has 75 seats.
Three years ago, Haga tweeted his support for an initiative that would have restricted the influence of MPs who quit their party but stay in parliament by limiting their speaking time and cutting their allowance.
He wrote: ‘Excellent initiative against seat snatchers. Hopefully the next step will be raising the electoral threshold to reduce fragmentation. Five seats?’