Opinion: Hilarious question (Dutch MP asks about vote buying)

POSTED: 09/23/14 10:53 PM

Reality is weirder than fiction – we all know that. The Dutch parliamentarian Ronald van Raak and Minister Plasterk (Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations) added a new chapter to this perception, when the minister answered questions from Van Raak about the election fraud trial in St. Maarten.

Among the questions Van Raak posed on August 27, two days before the elections, was this one. “Is it true that Mr. Heyliger, the party-leader of the UP at the elections this Friday, donated $3 million to his party for the elections in 2010?”

For good measure, Van Raak then added this rather hilarious question: “Is the calculation correct, that with an electorate of around 20,000 voters this amounts to €150 per voter?”

Let’s forgive Van Raak for a moment for adding the euro-sign to his 150 bucks – we understand here that he meant to write the dollar-sign.

We marveled already in August at the question. Van Raak is actually asking the minister whether 3,000,000 divided by 20,000 equals 150.

We could have told Van Raak from the top of our head – by removing four zeros from both numbers – that, indeed, 300 divided by 2 equals 150. You don’t need a pocket calculator to find that answer, but Van Raak apparently felt like asking the minister another pointless question.

And what was the answer Minister Plasterk came up with? Fasten your seatbelt: “I am not in the position to judge the truth of these allegations.”

There you have it: a Member of Parliament who wants assurance about a kindergarten-calculation and a minister who is unable to confirm that it is correct. Welcome to politics in The Hague.

One may well wonder why Van Raak (and at times VVD-MP André Bosman) keep asking Plasterk questions about St. Maarten (or about other kingdom countries) while they already know the answer. No minister – be it in The Hague or in the Caribbean – is going to comment on court rulings, and Plasterk is certainly not going to confirm the truthfulness of newspaper reports about Heyliger’s $3 million donation to his own party. What is wrong with that anyway?

The conclusion must therefore be that van Raak is not interested in what is happening in St. Maarten – otherwise he would come up with different questions –instead of stating the obvious. Van Raak’s questions are designed for consumption at home, for showing his own voters that he is on top of things and that he won’t stand for election fraud.

While these are pretty much straightforward and even commendable positions, we still wonder what Van Raak thought he would achieve with this particular set of questions. Maybe he will enlighten us one day, but so far, we have no clue why he is doing this.

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