The Dutch House of Representatives elections are just two days away, and the leaders of the major parties gathered for a televised debate in Rotterdam’s Ahoy arena. Despite some heated moments, the discussion was more civilized than expected.
During Monday’s debate on SBS6, the leaders had difficulty getting past each other’s points. However, this time around, they were able to discuss three key themes: migration, climate change, and social security.
The first two topics caused intense debates among the six party leaders: Dilan Yesilgöz (VVD), Frans Timmermans (GL-PvdA), Geert Wilders (PVV), Pieter Omtzigt (NSC), Rob Jetten (D66) and Caroline van der Plas (BBB). While Timmermans and Jetten advocated for increased climate ambitions and a greener economy, the others were concerned about the costs such measures might incur.
Wilders strongly opposed arguments from the left, arguing that people simply want to be able to pay for their groceries without worrying about additional expenses. He directed his comments at Timmermans: “You speak seven languages but not the language of the people. And the people just want to be able to pay for their groceries.”
Similar contradictions emerged in discussions on migration policy. Yesilgöz, Wilders, Omtzigt and Van der Plas all supported stricter immigration policies while most Dutch voters appeared to agree with them based on recent polls. Yet Timmermans and Jetten emphasized that Netherlands must remain hospitable country despite opposition from some party leaders.
Jetten directly attacked Yesilgöz’s VVD during his closing statement: “We are not dealing with an asylum crisis at all but we are dealing with a VVD crisis because your party has held sway over migration policy for 12 years and yet criminal asylum seekers still do not return to their own country any faster and refugees are stuck in overcrowded asylum centers due to lack of leadership.”