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Unless it's a sinister plot of Balkenende to protect his former spin doctor, and deputy minister of Defense, Jack De Vries, who has been embarrassed by the disclosure of his extramarital affair with his assistant. It's a bit Berlusconesque, I admit.

This being the CDA, the party of the family and values, it's particularly embarrassing - though not too surprising.

Dutch media pounce on minister's sex scandal | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

A sex scandal in Dutch politics - it's a rare phenomenon. Deputy Defence Minister Jack de Vries is sleeping in the barracks after being thrown out by his wife for having an affair with a junior colleague. The military unions say the minister's escapades have undermined his credibility. Some even see him as a security risk. And given that he's a member of a Christian party which pushes family values, there are cries of hypocrisy.

The former Christian Democrat spin doctor De Vries took his side of the story to the press as soon as the news of his affair came out. "I want to spend time to find a good solution for our private situation," he said in a statement.

But there has been a damning response to the deputy minister's antics. Wim van den Burg, president of the defence union AFMP/FNV, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide, "A member of the government who goes on about norms and values and then as a married family man starts carrying on with a much younger adjutant can't be taken seriously. Certainly a deputy minister who constantly preaches about family values - if he then starts an extramarital relationship with a subordinate, you've really got a problem."

The affair isn't just a private matter, says leader of Defence Personnel Union VBM/NOV Jean Debie in Dutch populist daily De Telegraaf. "The Defence Ministry's code of behaviour states that relationships at work have to be declared. De Vries hasn't kept to this so he can no longer demand it of his staff," he says. To make matters worse, the scandal has come to light just as the Dutch army is launching a `moral campaign' in response to reports of extravagant sexual behaviour among defence personnel and in the navy.

Of course the Tripoli air crash and the tenth anniversary of the firework disaster in Enschede are welcome distractions for the CDA, but I can only cheer on De Vries to persist in staying at his now untenable post for maximum embarrassment.

Less than a month to national elections.

by Nomad on Fri May 14th, 2010 at 05:55:29 AM EST
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