Hugo de Jonge steps down as CDA party leader 3 months before elections
Less than five months after winning the battle to control leadership at political party CDA, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said he no longer felt he could lead the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and simultaneously run his party. The decision could put the CDA in a difficult position with just three months to go before the 2021 Parliamentary elections.
”The unprecedented crisis that the Netherlands is going through has been demanding all my time and energy for months. This will also be the case in the coming months,” De Jonge said.
It was not immediately clear who would take over for De Jonge at CDA. With 50.7 percent of ballots cast by CDA party members in July, he narrowly beat Pieter Omtzigt. In September, Omtzigt was unanimously chosen as the party’s second-in-command in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch Parliament.
“I've always realized that the combination of being a minister and leading the party would be tough,” he continued. “That said, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot fully live up to both responsibilities. Responsibility for dealing with the coronavirus crisis must come first.”
The decision surprised political commentators in the Netherlands, like Frits Wester from RTL Nieuws, who said, “We knew that the combination of the two jobs put a heavy burden on De Jonge, but he always told me that he was going to keep it up."
“The CDA deserves a party leader who can devote all the time and energy to the party,” De Jonge concluded. “The Netherlands must overcome this crisis. I will continue to work for that with everything I have in me.”