Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dutch Parliament swears in substitute for pregnant lawmaker

(Sabine Uitslag. Photo: Geenstijl).

Dutch parliament has sworn in its first-ever "temp" as a lawmaker, replacing one who's going on a 4-month (paid) maternity leave.

This is Holland as its best.

It's a story I tried to do professionally, as a "brief," but we got hung up on one important issue: is it an international "first"?

I mean, most countries allow lawmakers to go on maternity leave (though 4 months is more than you'd get most places). The real question is, do you allow a substitute to take over the job?

If anyone knows the answer, I'd be interested to hear it (maybe in Sweden _ or South Africa?)

(Mirjam Sterk. Photo:

I called and asked a few questions about it.

In any case, the temp, whose name is Sabine Uitslag, was employed at the "research center" that each of the Dutch political parties have. So that's why it will be easy for her to quit that job and take this one _ for just four months _ and then pick up where she left off. She's a member of the governing "Christian Democrat," or CDA, party.

She will get paid the same, pro-rata, as the woman who she's replacing, Mirjam Sterk: EUR94,000 (US$150,000)

Even if Sterk should decide she doesn't want to come back, Uitslag wouldn't keep the job. In that scenario, the party would go through a formal process of naming a replacement.

It's a bit inside baseball how that happens, but suffice it to say they keep a list of candidates for who's next in line. In this case, the person next in line is: Sabine Uitslag! Small world. But she'd still have to go through the whole confirmation process again.

The party informed me that it was pure coincidence Uitslag is a woman, if anyone was wondering: no gender rules on replacements.

So how does Uitslag prepare for this job? She's been following along with Sterk for the past month, getting ready, attending meetings etc. And she has a resume of blah blah blah, according to the CDA party.

She's not expected to do anything but vote along party lines in most scenarios.

What they neglected to mention at the CDA was that Uitslag also had (has?) a career as a singer in a rock band called "Spinrock."

To find that out, I had to be a reader of "Geenstijl."

I repeat, this is Holland at its best.


Laura K. said...

Can I think the sub is cute and not be a lesbian? :P

I could not get over the name.. Uitslag.

Seriously? That's her last name???? Poor thing.

Toby Sterling said...

@Laura: Nope, you're a lesbian now ;)
And yes, her name is really 'Uitslag'. I guess we can take some comfort in that: she may be a rock star and beautiful, but at least she has a funny last name.