Deputy PM named new Labour leader ousting Diederik Samsom
A change in leadership was confirmed on Friday at the top of the PvdA, the Labour Party of the Netherlands. The new party leader is current Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher, party chairman Hans Spekman announced in Amsterdam.
Asscher defeated Diederik Samsom by a nine percent margin, winning 54.5 percent of the vote. Asscher had decided fairly late in the process to challenge Samsom for the leadership.
Samsom, 45, was rejected by the party’s voters after leading the PvdA for over four years. As Labour leader he helped orchestrate his party’s platform and campaign in the 2012 parliamentary elections that delivered 38 seats in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch Parliament.
It was a strong enough victory to allow Labour to team up with right-wing counterparts, VVD, which took 41 seats in that election. The two parties are on the road to complete a full, uninterrupted term for the first time since the first cabinet of Prime Minister Wim Kok from 1994 to 1998.
However, it has been a downward spiral in popular polling for the Dutch Labour party, especially since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis and several terrorist attacks in France and Belgium. The PvdA hit a historic low point in polling over the summer, and if elections were held today, it is predicted they would win just nine seats out of the 150-seat Tweede Kamer.
Over half of the PvdA members called on Samsom to step down as early as April 2015.