Yesterday featured the first major TV debate between five party leaders. Rutte and Wilders had withdrawn, so only Buma (CDA), Pechtold (D66), Klaver (GL), Asscher (PvdA), and Roemer (SP) participated.
The two main questions were whether one of the left-wing leaders would take a decisive lead over the others, and thus become Rutte’s main opponent in the elections; and whether Rutte and Wilders were right or wrong in abstaining from the debate.
This week was less hectic than last, but still plenty of things are happening.
There are two main items this week: the fall-out of the austerity agreement, and the CDA leadership election. But first, a sad anniversary.
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.
Last week NRC ran a story about how Maxime Verhagen, economics minister and de-facto CDA leader, almost never showed up for crucial meetings in his party. This story is emblematic of the severe trouble the CDA is in right now.
(Unfortunately NRC has decided that a digital archive of news stories is not necessary, even though this particular story did appear online. Therefore I can’t link to it.)
So what exactly are the problems the CDA is facing? First of all it sank like a stone in the polls. Both pollsters now agree that it’s the sixth party in the country, after VVD, PVV, SP, PvdA, and D66, with 11 or 13 seats. That’s not good for the “natural” party of government.