He was a ‘regular’ visitor of these lines in December 2012; the former VVD senator and alderman of the Dutch city of Roermond, Jos van Rey.
Van Rey had been pressed with charges of corruption and of being bribed by the regional project developer and ‘local hero’ Piet van Pol. On top of that, he had allegedly leaked classified information from the nomination procedure for the mayorship of Roermond, to a candidate from his party VVD. These accusations forced Van Rey to lay down his position as senator and alderman.
In such a situation, one would expect that this seemingly failed and corrupted alderman and senator would rest the remaining days until his pension in silence and shame, realizing that he did things that cannot be forgiven to a politician.
Nevertheless, this is not the style of Jos van Rey. From the beginning, he never made the impression that he realized how serious the accusations against him were and just felt victimized by the national and local media, ‘who put him on the fire stake’.
These are the reasons that Van Rey again wants to run for the position of council member for Roermond, probably in order to ‘clean his sheet’ and ‘because he feels that the city needs a man of his stature and competences’.
The desired nomination of Van Rey is an action that outrages 80% of the people in Limburg, who are sick and tired of the solar kings, the corruption and nepotism in their beloved province.
Even the national representatives of the VVD party, who rarely interfere with local politics, rejected the new attempt of Van Rey to become city council-member again.
The Volkskrant (www.volkskrant.nl) wrote the following story upon this renewed soap opera, concerning ex-alderman and senator Jos van Rey: “The Limburg empire strikes back”:
Four in five citizens of Limburg reject the idea that Jos van Rey again runs for the city council of Roermond. The National Criminal Investigation Department (i.e. Nationale Recherche) started a legal case against the former VVD Alderman and senator of the First Chamber of Dutch Parliament, into multiple cases of corruption and bribery and leaking of classified information. The aforementioned results came from an inquiry among 1500 citizens from Limburg.
Seven in ten Limburg citizens do not have any trust in Van Rey as a politician. And 72% would consider it not in the interest of Roermond, when Van Rey would return in the city council. Only 13% considers this a positive fact.
Chairman Victor Cillekens of VVD Roermond rejects the poll. ‘The inquiry is held in the whole of Limburg and therefore not representative’, he thinks. ‘It would only be a representative inquiry when it would be held in Roermond alone’.
I have a message for Victor Cillekens of the VVD. This inquiry is not about being or not being from Roermond. And not about being a representative investigation or not. This inquiry is about structural honesty versus corruption and nepotism. And about people being sick and tired of corruption and dishonesty and politicians not understanding this very basic fact.
That Van Rey wants to run as a city council member and (probably) alderman again is understandable: he showed in the past that his judgment in political questions and questions concerning honesty, incorruptability and fairness as a government representative, has been sub-zero. Summarized: Van Rey didn’t and still doesn’t have a single notion that he did something wrong.
However, it is worrisome that chairman Victor Cillekens of VVD Roermond does also not understand that Van Rey is an infected person now: someone, who should never return in a political position anymore, unless he realizes that he did something seriously wrong and takes account for his past actions.
In spite of Van Rey’s inevitable qualities – give the emperor what is his – which should not be forgotten after all, he became a symbol of the fact that the VVD in Roermond seems out of touch with the current times and ideas. At the moment, the VVD in Roermond is a party in distress, which is in desperate need of being cleaned up thorougly.
Before this clean-up happens, the trust of an overwhelming majority of Limburg citizens in some of their politicians will not return anymore.