Lots of confrontation in final election debate
The final election debate on NOS on Tuesday evening featured various confrontations as the leaders of the eight largest parties tried to scoop up as many hesitating voters as possible. PVV leader Geert Wilders attacked both VVD leader Mark Rutte and D66 leader Sigrid Kaag. While ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers faced attacks on his stances on homosexuality and euthanasia at the end of a complete life.
The newest Peilingwijzer has the VVD as by far the largest party, but second place is still up for grabs. PVV, CDA, and D66 are all close together, with the D66 seeming to be on the rise.
Wilders attacked Rutte, the departing Prime Minister, on his leadership after Rutte said that the Netherlands can only emerge from this crisis with realism and positivism. "You must have guts to come up with positivism when you've destroyed so many people," Wilders said, referring to the childcare allowance scandal that resulted in the Rutte III cabinet resigning. "You have violated the rule of law. Why are you still here?" the PVV leader wanted to know.
Rutte said that he carefully considered his position as VVD leader and came to the conclusion that "on balance" he could continue. "We've also done a lot of things well," he said. According to Rutte, it is Wilders who lets down his voters. "I take responsibility. You stand on the sidelines with clean hands."
Wilders attacked Kaag for wearing a headscarf when she visited the leaders of Iran as Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. "While women are beaten there on the street for taking off their headscarves, you put on a headscarf and bowed to the ayatollahs. With that you've squandered women's rights and betrayed those women," Wilders said.
A visibly furious Kaag did not let that allegation slide. "I will not accept that!" she said. According to her, her visit to Iran was in the interest of safety in the Middle East. "And if the rules in a particular country require something, I will do it."
ChristenUnie leader Segers was attacked by both GroenLinks and the PvdA. GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver said that medical-ethical issues like euthanasia at the end of a complete life should not be declared taboo in the next coalition agreement. "Something so fundamental should be a free matter. I have the impression that Segers does want to make agreements about this in the formation, because he does not want to be part of a cabinet that makes this form of euthanasia possible."
"Everyone can choose freely, and I choose freely whether I want to lose my principles in this," Segers said. "I will not force anyone to do anything, but then do not force me to do something that is unwholesome."
PvdA leader Lilianne Ploumen wanted Segers to clearly state whether or not he accepts homosexuality. "There are schools from your rank and file where they say that you can be gay, but not do anything gay," she said, calling it a wrong interpretation of freedom of education.
Segers said that schools should be allowed to take the position that marriage is something between an man and a woman, and can at the same time be a safe environment for young gay people. He said that he precisely entered politics to protect minorities and people in tribulation. According to him, the PvdA should look at its own tolerance. Ploumen previously said that she and the D66 are fighting against "a Christian wind" on the right to abortion. According to Segers, that was a "bitter" statement for religious people.
CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra and GroenLinks leader Klaver clashed over the climate. They accused each other of telling nonsense stories about the climate and how polluting companies should be addressed. Klaver wants to impose a CO2 tax on polluting companies and use the proceeds to make industry more sustainable. Hoekstra said that Klaver is "stuck in his own right" and that his measures will only lead to pollution abroad and risking 400 thousand jobs.
Hoekstra said the CDA therefore wants a CO2 tax on a European level, but Klaver pointed out that the CDA in Europe recently voted against a proposal for that.