The leaders of the most important parties in the Netherlands gathered for a televised debate in Rotterdam on Monday evening, just two days before the House of Representatives elections. Despite some heated discussions, the overall tone was more civilized than during their previous debate on SBS6.
During the debate, six party leaders were given a chance to secure votes: Dilan Yesilgöz (VVD), Frans Timmermans (GL-PvdA), Geert Wilders (PVV), Pieter Omtzigt (NSC), Rob Jetten (D66) and Caroline van der Plas (BBB). They were confronted with three themes: migration, climate, and social security.
The climate debate once again revealed how divided the parties are. While Timmermans and Jetten want to increase the Netherlands’ climate ambitions, others fear the costs that such a greener economy will bring. Wilders strongly opposed their arguments, saying that they do not speak for the people. He argued that people just want to be able to pay for their groceries without worrying about high costs associated with going green.
The migration debate also caused intense discussions. Yesilgöz, Wilders, Omtzigt, and Van der Plas all supported stricter immigration policies, while Timmermans and Jetten emphasized that the Netherlands must remain a hospitable country for refugees. Jetten even directly attacked Yesilgöz’s VVD party by accusing them of holding sway over migration policy for 12 years without seeing any results in terms of returning criminal asylum seekers or reducing overcrowding in asylum centers.
Despite these disagreements, there was some consensus on one theme during the debate: housing. Each party emphasized that it is crucial for construction efforts to boost after the elections, but beyond that point there did not seem to be much difference between them.
Tomorrow night will see a final televised debate between party leaders on NOS before Dutch voters head to polls on Wednesday.
In summary: The leaders of the major political parties in the Netherlands held a televised debate ahead of House of Representatives elections next week. The discussion focused on three main themes – migration, climate change and social security – and while there were some intense exchanges between right and left-wing parties, there were also moments of agreement.