The proposals of critical members of JA21 to make the party more democratic and professional were embraced by a large majority during the members’ meeting. Party leader Joost Eerdmans has not put his name under the letter with the proposals, but he does support it.
He does warn that the party “shouldn’t fly too fast too fast”. The letter writers insist that the plans are actually carried out and that it does not stop with fine words.
First petitioner and Member of Parliament Nicki Pouw-Verweij did not want to speak of an urgent letter or conflict before the members’ meeting and spoke of “constructive proposals”. Among other things, the signatories want all members to be able to apply for positions on the board. At present, this can only be done on the recommendation of the board itself. Moreover, they want an end to double functions and that there is a party council that will determine the political direction.
Real decision-making power
Despite the board’s positive words about the proposals, Pouw-Verweij is not entirely confident that the plans will be implemented. “In the past year, efforts have not led to results,” she says. That is why she also wants a hard deadline to be agreed. She also thinks that the board envisions a party council that engages in “a simple exchange of ideas”, while she wants “real decision-making power”.
MP Derk Jan Eppink also signed the letter and speaks of “catching up that we have to catch up because we may have new elections this year. Otherwise we will become a small club with broad aspirations that we cannot fulfill.”
Annabel Nanninga is party leader for the Senate and chairperson of the Amsterdam city council. To critical questions from members about the double function, she speaks of an “emergency measure” and also says that it should remain that way for a while. Experience is scarce at a starting party, which makes double functions sometimes unavoidable, she believes. She also believes that familiar faces, such as the “resins on the posters” of herself and Eerdmans, should be put to good use.
While the members who spoke were unanimous in their support for the plans, some expressed chagrin over the tone and the fact that the letter had been made public. “It just really damaged us,” says Member of Parliament Daniël van den Berg of North Holland, referring to the coalition negotiations there.