Political leaders debate policy on kids TV show

Posters for the Netherlands' parliamentary elections, March 2017
Posters for the Netherlands' parliamentary elections, March 2017. (Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times)

On Saturday party leaders Alexander Pechtold (D66), Sybrand Buma (CDA), Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA), Mark Rutte (VVD), Geert Wilders (PVV) and Emile Roemer (SP) debated policy, explained what topics they find important and played games on kids TV show NOS Jeugdjournaal. 

The debate was done by means of a quartet. Each party leader could chose a theme and a topic, such as "healthcare" and "costs". And then they could briefly and simply explain what they find important on that topic. 

CDA leader Buma said that, under healthcare, he finds exercise very important as a prevention to needing care. Rutte (VVD) agreed. "You must be able to play sports and exercise, then your body remains healthy. But sports can help you handle loss, which is also important."  SP leader Emile Roemer think it's important that everyone is able to go to the doctor. He therefore wants to eliminate healthcare deductibles. Rutte said he finds that a good idea in principle, but it costs a lot of money. "As a result, insurance becomes more expensive, or taxes become higher."

For Wilders (PVV) elderly care is most important. "I want there to be more people to help your grandpas and grandmas. Many people in elderly care were dismissed and they need to get jobs again." Roemer "very much agrees" with Wilders. "Grandparents deserve respect frompoliticians."

The Jeugdjournaal editors find being nice to each other very important. The party leaders were therefore asked to compliment each other.

Wilders praised Roemer for his courage. "Whatever you think of his ideas, he stands by them and he's stood there for years", the PVV leader said. 

Roemer complimented Pechtold. "He is very tenacious. He has many ideas in politics that do not succeed the first time, but he always holds on. And if you persist, you eventually get something together." the SP leader said. 

Pechtold complimented Buma for showing his human side. "Politicians don't often show something of themselves, but for a long time Buma tweeted about his rabbit. His rabbit is now dead. We wish him a new rabbit", the D66 leader said. 

Buma expressed his admiration for Asscher. "He just started as a party leader and ended up straight away in an election campaign. That's a very difficult job, because you just started. But he is doing it extremely well." the CDA leader said.

Asscher complimented Rutte by calling him a very nice colleague. "He is considerate of you. I live in Amsterdam and would like to eat with my kids. Rutte said: then we'll meet later in Amsterdam. He is considerate of others and that's really nice." the PvdA leader said.

Rutte was the last one to give a compliment and his went to Wilders. "He has a sense of humor, can laugh and makes many jokes. We very often disagree with each other and then pick each other apart. But he can handle it. Afterwards I'll get a message: well, you really got me."

"We can really disagree, but we don't have to hate each other", Rutte said. Pechtold agrees: "In debate you can discuss, but on each other's birthdays, we always send a message." The D66 leader added that he sometimes regrets how he handled situations in a debate. "I used to be less careful. I sometimes used a rude word. But then I learned that everyone pays attention to the rude word and not to what I wanted to say, so I try to keep them in."

Wilders does not really have regrets. "Sometimes you're less harsh, sometimes you're harsher. I think that politicians can say a lot about each other. It should not be a tirade of swear words, but you can say what you feel."

Roemer, Buma and Asscher try to be good examples for their kids. "I try to do my best", Roemer said. "But when you're in an arena and you're really engaged in a debate, the I think: oh, now I'm going too far. Or I should've gotten up earlier." Asscher finds it important to have respect for each other. My kids think that I have to do my very best, then they say: you should really diss Wilders. But I think it is important that there is a difference between a bit of teasing and bullying. We do not bully."