On Monday evening, the leaders of the most important parties gathered at the Ahoy in Rotterdam for a televised debate ahead of the House of Representatives elections on Wednesday. Despite some civil exchanges, the differences between right and left were once again brought to light.
The Dutch will elect their representatives to the House of Representatives tomorrow. During the final chance to secure votes, six party leaders – Dilan Yesilgöz (VVD), Frans Timmermans (GL-PvdA), Geert Wilders (PVV), Pieter Omtzigt (NSC), Rob Jetten (D66) and Caroline van der Plas (BBB) – were confronted with three themes: migration, climate, and social security.
The first two themes sparked intense discussions, with more civility compared to last week’s SBS6 debate where leaders had difficulty getting each other to speak out. The climate debate reiterated how positions lie: Timmermans and Jetten advocated for increased climate ambitions while others worried about the costs associated with a greener economy.
Wilders strongly opposed arguments from the left, stating that they do not speak “the language of the people” and are spending too much money while there are bigger problems than climate change in the coming years. Similarly, in the migration debate, Yesilgöz, Wilders, Omtzigt and Van der Plas called for stricter immigration policies while Timmermans and Jetten emphasized that Netherlands must remain hospitable.
Jetten directly attacked Yesilgöz’s VVD by saying that it is not an asylum crisis but rather a VVD crisis because their party has held sway over migration policy for twelve years without improving return rates of criminal asylum seekers or reducing overcrowding in asylum centers due to lack of leadership and choices.
There was consensus among all parties regarding one theme – housing construction after elections. They all emphasized that maximum efforts are needed to boost construction after Wednesday’s elections. However, no significant differences seemed apparent between them on this point.