Deputy PM Asscher enters Labour leadership fracas

Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher plans to announce his candidacy for leader of the PvdA next week, NOS reports. This means he will run against current party leader Diederik Samsom and parliamentarian Jacques Monasch, who announced himself as candidate on Thursday.

Sources in The Hague told the broadcaster that Asscher, currently Minister of Social Affairs as well as Deputy Prime Minister, thought long and hard about the issue and eventually decided to run. Though Asscher himself would not confirm these rumors.

"Whether I'll stand on the podium, you'll have to wait and sea. I will announce before the deadline whether I will participate. If I have something to say about it, you will here it. I choose my own time to say something about my future. My phone exploded with messages when I got off the plane, but that will have no effect on that." Asscher said after landing in the Netherlands from Luxembourg, according to AD.

On Thursday morning a group of local PvdA leaders wrote an open letter in the Volkskrant calling on Asscher to make himself available for party leader. "We believe that he can accomplish our ideas the best", according to the PvdA leaders and aldermen in, among others, Utrecht, Arnhem, Amsterdam and Enschede. Volunteers already formed a campaign for Asscher should he decide to take the plunge. There is also a Facebook group for his supporters, according to the Telegraaf.

Current party leader Diederik Samsom announced his intention to remain leader of the PvdA late last month. Parliamentarian Jacques Monasch announced his candidacy in a press conference on Thursday. According to the Telegraaf, PvdA leader in the European Parliament Paul Tang may also want to take part in the race for PvdA leader.

Shortly before summer Maurice de Hod did a poll on Samsom and Asscher's popularity with the voter. If Samsom is PvdA leader, 5 percent of voters would vote for the labour party. If Asscher is leader, the PvdA can count on 8 percent of voters' votes.

But it is the PvdA members who choose the party leader.

A survey by EenVandaag showed that within the PvdA Samsom can count on the most support. 44 percent of the 800 or so party members indicated that they would vote for Samsom. Asscher can count on 26 percent.