Party leaders react to Dutch election results; Left wing let down
Party leaders from across the political spectrum gave their reactions to the exit poll results after voting in the 2021 parliamentary elections wrapped up. Seventeen parties were projected to take at least one of the 150 seats in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. Below follows a round up of reactions from party leaders.
Not included are speeches covered in a separate article, like those from Mark Rutte, the leader of the apparent winner VVD, Sigrid Kaag, who led D66 to a second place finish, and Geert Wilders, whose PVV finished in third. Also missing is Thierry Baudet, leader of the FvD, who gave no reaction three hours after the polls closed despite an apparently strong election result based on exit poll data.
It was a "painful" defeat for the Greens, said GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver of his party's projected six-seat loss. "This result also means that colleagues will not come back, and that hurts."
It is a big difference for Klaver, who led his party to a 14-seat victory and a large increase in the Tweede Kamer in 2017. "It takes some getting used to," Klaver said of losing an election.
He did not want to speculate as to why his party lost so much support, calling it "too early" to analyze the situation. Neither he nor SP leader Lilian Marijnissen had plans to step down.
She led the socialists to the same result as GroenLinks: a likely loss of eight out of 14 seats. She said she "hoped and expected" her party would do better in the election, especially after the profiling scandal at the tax authority brought down the third Rutte Cabinet.
Labour party leader Lilianne Ploumen told broadcaster NOS that, "In the coming years, I will fight for the people who have put their trust in us." Surveys leading up to the election suggested her party, PvdA, could pick up as many as 13 seats, but instead the party lost steam as the centrist D66 led by Sigrid Kaag gained momentum.
"We are going to do everything we can to make the Netherlands fairer and decent," she said. She offered her congratulations to Volt, Bij1 and BoerBurgerBeweging, which were projected to receive a combined total of five seats that Labour might otherwise have taken.
Esther Ouwehand, the leader of the PvdD which has traditionally focused on animal rights, said she was optimistic from the early exit poll data which could bring the party up from five to six seats. "We have shown ambition," she told broadcaster NOS.
Entering the Dutch lower house for the first time with three seats, as projected, center-left Volt hoped that the victory in the Netherlands could rally their pro-European Union colleagues in other Member States to also enter domestic political races. "It seems that Volt is entering a national parliament for the first time and hopefully that is a starting point for Volt in other countries," said party leader Laurens Dassen. “In any case, it is great that our European agenda has reached voters."
JA21 is also poised to enter the Tweede Kamer for the first time after its prominent figures split from the far-right FvD after a controversy involving racist and anti-Semitic messages shared in WhatsApp groups. Party leader Joost Eerdmans was stunned his party took three seats in exit poll results. He called it genuinely "unique" that voters would arrive in such "large numbers and give their confidence to a party that has existed for such a short time." The party pledged to bridge its differences with the FvD and work with together in areas where they maintain common ground.
Denk, which also represents the interests of some ethnic minority residents in the Netherlands, said it was skeptical of the exit poll results. Leader Farid Azarkan said he was worried the country was moving more to the right, choosing parties which have "too few eyes and ears" for minorities.
"To be honest, that is disappointing to me," he said of the exit poll projection that his party would lose one of three seats. He remained hopeful that Denk voters were underrepresented in polling and that his party would come out unscathed.
Prominent inclusion and diversity leader Sylvana Simons, of Bij1, was likely to win a seat in Dutch parliament, her party's first. She said Bij1 was "much-needed" especially as it appeared that left wing parties SP and GroenLinks would each lose eight seats. "There is certainly interest on the left for new politics," she said, adding that this election would produce a "disappointing gain for the current status quo."
Apparent Tweede Kamer newcomer Caroline van der Plas, said it was a lesson for everyone who derided her BoerBurgerBeweging, which translates to Farmer Citizen Movement. "People have ridiculed and belittled us," she said. "But we have always believed in this."
After a difficult two years which saw party 50PLUS divided and decimated, party leader Liane den Haan said she was "very happy" that they were holding on to one of their four seats. "That would do justice to our campaign. The battle is not over yet," she said after the exit polls were released. Though the polling has a margin of error of two seats, which could push the party out of the Tweede Kamer.