Election campaigns become clearer as five parties hold congresses

Five of the country’s main political parties held mass meetings on Saturday to finalise their plans for the September 12 general election.

The Christian Democrats, junior party in the outgoing coalition and currently languishing in the opinion polls, agreed to renew the party’s commitment to spending 0.7% of GDP on development aid. The figure had been missing from the draft manifesto.
CDA members also agreed to back an opt out register for organ donations and to scrap the party’s commitment to introducing road pricing – a kilometer tax on motoring.
In his speech, campaign leader Sybrand van Haersma Buma emphasised the importance of the family and his support for Europe. According to the Financieele Dagblad, the party chief also appears to have ditched the first part of his surname on the election posters
The Socialist Party – riding high in the opinion polls – agreed to increase its commitment to development aid to 0.8% of GDP.
Party leader Emile Roemer made it clear in his speech he considers prime minister Mark Rutte to be his main opponent, describing the VVD leader as ‘Merkel’s servant’ – a reference to Rutte’s position on Europe.
According to the latest Maurice de Hond opinion poll, the SP has now stretched its lead over the VVD Liberals to six seats and Roemer has caught up with Rutte in the popularity stakes
The green party GroenLinks, hit by internal discord over the past few weeks, made few changes to its election plans, but did agree to raise the drinking age to 18 and to restrict the sale of fireworks to professionals.
At the Labour conference, party leader Diederick Samsom used the occasion to emphasise party unity, the NRC said. Labour members also agreed not to campaign in favour of scrapping college fees for technical studies.
But they did back a reduction in the maximum speed limit from 130 kph to 120 kph. The speed limit is due to go up on a number of motorways in September.
Elsewhere, ChristenUnie members made few changes to the manifesto and approved the list of parliamentary candidates. Party leader Arie Slob used his speech to attack Mark Rutte’s ‘populism’