An hour ago it became official: vice-prime-minister and Social Affairs minister Asscher has entered the race for the PvdA leadership. In itself this is the least-surprising political announcement of the year; everybody expected Asscher to challenge current party leader Samsom, and now the battle can finally begin.
Contrary to all expectations the VVD+PvdA Rutte II government is likely to reach the end of its natural life. Elections are slated for 15 March 2017, and it seems likely government will not fall before that date. This would be the first time since 1998 that government survives unscathed until the next regular elections.
Now that all politicians have returned from recess they are starting up their electioneering; not yet with a fully-fledged campaign (that will happen only in February or so), but with positioning their party to go into the elections as a favourite. Most political moves of the next seven months will be aimed squarely at 15 March.
This week was a spectacular one in Dutch politics, with expectations starting very low but climbing to dizzying heights at the end of the week, after a five-party austerity agreement was reached. Winners: D66, CU, and maybe GL and CDA. Losers: PvdA and possibly the PVV.