Dutch party leaders have clashed in a tetchy televised debate, as the Netherlands election campaign entered its final days.
The country’s six main party leaders confronted each other in Rotterdam on Monday night, as a poll suggested Frans Timmermans’ GreenLeft/Labour was neck and neck – on 27 seats of a total 150 – with the party that has led the past four governments, the People’s party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) under Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius.
The poll also showed a six-seat gain to 26 seats for Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam Party for Freedom, which has been campaigning on distrust in government and an immigration “stop”. Support for the centre-right backbencher Pieter Omtzigt and his New Social Contract dropped four seats to 21 – although after the poll was taken, Omtzigt said he would be a prime ministerial candidate, one uncertainty that was troubling voters.
During the debate, the six main party leaders, including Farmer-Citizen Movement’s Caroline van der Plas and liberal democratic D66 leader Rob Jetten, interrupted each other and failed to agree on any subjects except the housing crisis.
The ill-tempered spectacle came as the poll suggested that a previous survey last week – which showed a surge for the far-right Party for Freedom – may also have galvanised progressive votes for GreenLeft/Labour.
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Based on the latest polling, the Clingendael Institute’s Rem Korteweg sketched out two possible coalitions:
Coalition 1: PVV-VVD-NSC
Coalition 2: VVD-NSC-GL/PvdA (possibly plus a small party)
The question is whether Wilders is excluded or not. And that is exactly the same question that has occupied Dutch politics for 13 years.
Far right Forum for Democracy leader Thierry Baudet said today that he is alright and continuing with his campaign. He was hit with a beer bottle yesterday.
The far right Party for Freedom (PVV) is set to win 28 seats, according to the last pre-election poll by I&O Research.
The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Green-Labour alliance (GL/PvdA) have 27 seats each, according to the poll, Volkskrant reported.
Due to the margin of error, the three parties are now considered tied.
The New Social Contract (NSC) is at 21 seats.
D66 leader Rob Jetten is criticising VVD candidate Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius’ stance on Geert Wilders.
“People see through this,” he said.
Earlier, Yesilgöz-Zegerius said she was prepared to talk to Wilders about coalition forming if the VVD was the largest party.
Far right politician Geert Wilders is excited about the latest polling – and telling supporters to make it a reality tomorrow.
Head of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius has ruled out joining a government with the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) if it is voted largest party.
The new leader of prime minister Mark Rutte’s party told NPO Radio 1 on Tuesday morning that she would not sit in a government lead by Geert Wilders.
“Firstly, I don’t see Wilders coming first,” she said, unsmilingly.
I think the Dutch are looking for a leader of the country who can connect people, who keeps things together, who is there for all Dutch people, who can also lead our country internationally…and I don’t see Wilders forming a majority. I don’t see it happening and I won’t do it. A prime minister Wilders would not be good for this country.
Nevertheless, Yeşilgöz-Zegerius said she was prepared to talk to Wilders about coalition forming if she was the largest party “but it is evident that there are big differences between the VVD and Timmermans [of GreenLeft/Labour] and the VVD and Wilders.”
A minor has been arrested under the suspicion that he assaulted Thierry Baudet yesterday, NRC reported citing the ANP news agency.
Baudet, leader of the far right Forum for Democracy, was hit in the head with a beer bottle.
Dutch voters cast their ballots tomorrow in a snap parliamentary election called after the collapse in July of the outgoing coalition government headed by Mark Rutte, the EU’s second longest-serving leader after Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.
The savvy liberal-conservative, a fixture at EU summits since 2010, failed to overcome “irreconcilable differences” in his fragile four-party coalition over migration policy – and announced soon after resigning that he was giving up national politics.
The departure of the Dutch political scene’s great survivor means that for the first time in more than 13 years and four different coalition governments, the Netherlands will get a new leader. Quite who it will be, however, is very hard to say.
Four parties – Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), a Green-Labour alliance (GL/PvdA), Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV) and New Social Contract (NSC), a brand-new party led by a popular former Christian Democrat MP – are vying for the lead in the polls.
None, however, looks likely to win more than 20% of the vote and, as ever, the next Dutch government – invariably an influential player on the EU and international stage – will emerge only after coalition negotiations that could well last months.
The GreenLeft/Labour candidate, Frans Timmermans, is making the case that the left will ensure a return to trust.
If the left becomes the largest, we will show everyone that we are making the Netherlands more honest. In this way we ensure that trust in each other returns.
The far-right politician Geert Wilders has responded to an ad by D66, which advertised that it is “the smartest vote against Wilders”.
“D66 paid a lot to have my name printed on the front page of the Volkskrant today,” Wilders wrote.