Debate season has started: These were the main points of the first political showdown
The first election debate took place on Sunday evening. During the event, which was broadcasted live on NPO Radio 1, the leaders of the 13 main political parties went head to head on topics such as health care, education, integration, and the economy.
Sigrid Kaag of the social-liberal D66 met Geert Wilders of the populist right-wing PVV, among others, on the subject of climate change. Wilders confronted Minister Kaag (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) with the many kilometers she has flown as a minister. “I did that for our country,” argued Kaag. She called Wilders “a bit of a climate denier.”
Kaag also got into trouble with Christian democratic CDA party leader Wopke Hoekstra. He spoke about D66’s position on drugs to regulate soft drugs, which he calls “disarmingly naive”. Many drugs made in the Netherlands would still be exported abroad, according to Hoekstra. Kaag, in turn, finds the CDA naive, because she believes a hard policy against drugs does not work. The American “war on drugs” has failed, she says.
Wilders also clashed hard with Farid Azarkan of the center-left party, with whom he spoke about Islam and integration. According to Wilders, many problems in society are caused by non-Western immigrants, but Azarkan believes that this is merely a way “sows hatred against Muslims”. The new leader of the labor party PvdA, Lilianne Ploumen, kept aloof during the verbal clash of arms between Wilders and Azarkan.
Socialist party leader Lilian Marijnissen of SP attacked the current prime minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte, whose first debate it was this campaign, on the childcare benefits scandal. According to her, confidence in the government has been seriously damaged by the benefits affair and the handling of the earthquake damage in Groningen. She thinks that the politicians who were at the helm in recent years, such as Rutte, do not contribute to the solution. “I don’t think you should ask a pyromaniac to put out a fire.”
According to former CDA spin doctor Jack de Vries, Geert Wilders was the winner of the debate. Subjects such as climate change and integration were right up his alley. According to de Vries, “electorally, Wilders has benefited the most from all the top leaders.”
Former political correspondent Julia Wouters looked with great interest at the five female party leaders who, according to her, did well. “Marijnissen and Ploumen sometimes had a good comeback by bringing a little humor into the debate.” Mark Rutte’s attack on Thierry Baudet in the first debate was also very striking. Rutte chided Baudet for the ‘homophobic’ and ‘anti-Semitic’ character of the party. However, according to Wouters, there were no clear winners in this debate.
This Sunday, VVD, PVV, CDA, D66, SP, and GroenLinks will face each other again in the RTL debate. The selection for parties was made on the basis of the current number of seats in the House of Representatives and the forecast of the Polling Guide.