Attacks on reliability and courage in harsh debate between Wilders and Rutte
Monday night's EenVandaag election debate between the leaders of the two largest parties in the polls, VVD leader Mark Rutte and PVV leader Geert Wilders, was exceptionally harsh. Accusations including "No one believes you anymore, Mr. Rutte!" and "Wilders walks away when things get difficult" were thrown about, RTL Nieuws reports.
The political row with Turkey over the weekend inceased the pressure and was the first topic on the table. Wilders thinks that Rutte should have intervened harder by expelling Turkey's ambassador from the country. Rutte, whose main goal was clearly showing his experience as Prime Minister, responded with a one-liner: "That is the difference between tweeting from the sidelines and actually governing the country."
Wilders also attacked on the economy - yes, things are looking better, but "the people on the couch" notice very little of it, he said. He also attacked Rutte on his reliability - the current Prime Minister already apologized for breaking election promises. "Who still believes him? I can still see him standing five years ago. We would get a tax cut. Everyone would get 1,000 euros."
Rutte was ready for that attack and had his defense ready. He shot back with the the "Catshuis crisis". In 2012 the government fell when the negotiations in the Catshuis - the Prime Minister's residence - between the VVD, CDA and PVV failed. Rutte accused Wilders of running away when the country was in crisis and putting the PVV's interest above the country's. "You have to have guts to talk about credibility."
On the last subject, Integration, Wilders did not change his tone. "You are the Prime Minister for foreigners, not for the Dutch." Wilders said. According to him, by making an asylum agreement with Turkey, the VVD "made deals with terrorists". Nonsense, Rutte responded. "We reduced the intake of asylum seekers by 90 percent. When you govern, you have to solve problems." Wilders interrupted, but Rutte was again ready for him. "I know you don't like contradiction. You can block me on Twitter, but tonight you have to actually listen to me."