The Dutch are set to elect their representatives in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, and six party leaders faced off in a televised debate at the Ahoy in Rotterdam on Monday evening. Dilan Yesilgöz (VVD), Frans Timmermans (GL-PvdA), Geert Wilders (PVV), Pieter Omtzigt (NSC), Rob Jetten (D66) and Caroline van der Plas (BBB) discussed three key themes: migration, climate, and social security.
Despite some tense moments, particularly during the discussions on climate and migration, the debate was more civilized than the one held last week on SBS6. The climate debate once again highlighted how deeply divided the parties are: Timmermans and Jetten called for increased ambitions on climate change, while Wilders and others warned about the costs of a greener economy.
Wilders was particularly critical of Timmermans’ arguments, saying that he spoke seven languages but not “the language of the people.” He argued that what people truly wanted was to be able to pay for their groceries without worrying about additional taxes or regulations.
The migration debate also revealed a significant contradiction between the parties. Yesilgöz, Wilders, Omtzigt, and Van der Plas all advocated for a stricter migration policy, which is supported by a majority of Dutch voters according to recent polls. However, Timmermans and Jetten insisted that the Netherlands must remain a hospitable country despite these views.
Jetten took a direct attack against Yesilgöz’s VVD party during his closing statement: “We are not dealing with an asylum crisis at all; we are dealing with a VVD crisis because your party has held sway over migration policy for twelve years without making any real progress.”
Despite their differences on other issues, there seemed to be consensus among the parties that addressing housing needs will be crucial after tomorrow’s elections. Each leader emphasized the importance of boosting construction efforts to meet demand for affordable housing in the Netherlands.