PM turns down Labour leader’s debate call

Prime minister Pieter Balkenende has refused a challenge from his main opponent Labour (PvdA) leader Wouter Bos to take part in a debate in all 12 of the country’s provinces in the run up to elections on 22 November.

At his party’s conference this weekend, Bos called on Balkenende to hold the face-to-face meetings to discuss the Christian Democrats’ (CDA) plans for healthcare, education and social security. But Balkenende rejected the call, saying that he did not need 12 debates to make it clear that Bos is speaking ‘untruths’. Furthermore his job is to govern the country and not to ‘solve Wouter Bos’ problems’ Balkenende said. The prime minister believes the four TV debates already planned between himself and Bos are sufficient.
In total six parties held their party conferences at the weekend. None of the meetings resulted in major changes from the parties’ published manifestos. Both Labour and the CDA voted in favour of making secondary school textbooks free while the Liberals (VVD) agreed that they want to scrap the law on shop opening times.
Meanwhile the latest opinion poll by Maurice de Hond indicates Labour and the CDA are neck-to-neck and would win respectively 42 and 41 seats if an election was held now. According to the poll, the current CDA and VVD coalition will only win 71 seats, five short of a majority.

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