Need for active counterpower and greater transparency in local politics
The Hague City Council is discussing the implications for local politics of the verdict acquitting former councillors De Mos and Guernaoui of corruption. The court ruled that from a criminal law perspective there was no official bribery. The debate will mainly focus on whether De Mos' party ‘Hart voor Den Haag’ should regain a place on the council. The debate will also focus on relations within the Hague City Council.
Set up integrity office
‘Conflicts of interest are always a risk in local politics’, warns Geerten Boogaard, Professor of Local Government at Leiden University. Boogaard says: ‘Local administrators, especially aldermen, operate on the edge of the abyss. They need to be able to substantiate that a decision which favours a cousin with land interests is also in the public interest.'
Boogaard also calls for an active counterpower by, for example, setting up an integrity office under the mayor that can 'be stricter at looking into the resources and position of donors.'
'The court pointed out that the intertwining of state and society is part of local politics. That this is only problematic in cases of obvious personal interest.’ But, observes Boogaard, ‘You increasingly see a tendency for something to be called suspect if it has “the appearance of”’.
Read the full article (in Dutch) in newspaper NRC (€).