SP leader Roemer to party congress: ‘We will not leave the Netherlands in the hands of the right’

30 June 2012

SP leader Roemer to party congress: ‘We will not leave the Netherlands in the hands of the right’

'Rutte woke sweating from his dream of Roemer pushing the buttons of the cash dispenser. But who’s pushing the buttons now? For emergency funds and guarantees? Not us. Just ask all of these bankers and highly-paid managers where the cash dispenser is to be found. Mark, I can put your mind at rest. If the SP is soon sitting in the Prime Minister’s residence, sleeping pills will still be available on prescription.’ So said SP leader Emile Roemer in a message to Prime mInister Mark Rutte during his speech today to the XIXth Congress of the SP.

Emile Roemer

The SP today, at its electoral congress in Den Bosch, confirmed the final version of its election manifesto ‘Nieuw Vertrouwen´ (‘New Confidence’) and its list of candidates for the Parliamentary elections on 12th September. According to manifesto commission secretary Ronald van Raak, thanks to the contribution from the congress representatives the text has now been improved. The amended manifesto will shortly be published on this website, and selections will be available in English translation. Amongst the amendments which won the support of the congress was a proposal to fix spending on development cooperation at 0.8% of GDP, which would reverse recent cuts and maintain its current status as proportionally amongst the highest in the world.

Congresvoorzitters Bob Ruers en Riet de Wit
SP leader Emile Roemer with Iceland’s Deputy Prime Minister Steingrímur Sigfusson

At the same time the congress discussed the SP’s list of candidates. In accordance with the national executive’s proposal, the party opted for a blend of experience and new blood. Following the number one candidate Emile Roemer come the incumbent MPs, with the sole exception of Ewout Irrgang, who has stated that he does not want to remain in Parliament for another term. He was thanked by the congress with a standing ovation for his years of hard work in the legislature.

The congress was addressed by Steingrimur Sigfusson, Minister of Economic Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Iceland. His party has been in a coalition government with social democrats since 2009 and has therefore had the difficult task of clearing up the rubble from the bankruptcy of the Icelandic banks. Despite this the country has taken great steps forward in recent years, with falling unemployment, strong economic growth and a deficit reduced from 13% to 1.5%.

Emile Roemer en Steingrímur Sigfusson
SP leader Emile Roemer with Iceland’s Deputy Prime Minister Steingrímur Sigfusson

Sigfusson stressed that it is possible to deal with the crisis in a socially progressive manner. By maintaining the welfare state intact, the government guaranteed that even people who lost their jobs would retain some spending power, with all the benefits that brings for economic growth. The most important advice from the Deputy Prime MInister was to ‘be honest and take swift decisions.’

Lieke Smits, the brand new chair of SP-affiliated youth movement ROOD, said in her speech that she was sick of the picture that was painted of old and young being at odds. ‘And if I hear students on television in chic clothes talking about a generation conflict, and questioning the way things are shared out between generations, then I ask myself just who they are. Who do they in reality represent? Are they speaking on behalf of the students on hairdressing courses? Do they represent the boy from Rotterdam who is seeing his neighbourhood go downhill? No, these young people do not feel themselves to be represented by students in made-to-measure suits who constantly try to show older people in a bad light.’ Smits announced that ROOD would continue to prioritise the fight against youth unemployment, exploitative landlords and child poverty.

Emile Roemer brought the congress to a close with his speech. ‘We are making a new beginning,’ he said. ‘In order to restore people’s confidence in the economy, people’s confidence in politics and people’s confidence in each other. It is our duty to get on and build this “new confidence”. If we go about this well, then 12th September will be a very fine day. For us, but above all for all those people who have as things stand lost confidence in politics. People who expect us to be there for them. It won’t be easy to govern the country in a time of deep crisis. It is difficult to build your own house on the rubble of another. But we will do it all the same, because we won’t leave the Netherlands in the hands of the right.’

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