Mark Rutte, leader of the free-market Liberal party (VVD), is coming under increasing pressure because of the party’s poor performance in the opinion polls, Dutch media report today. In particular, Rutte’s appearance in Sunday’s pre-election radio debate between the main party leaders has come in for criticism.
In his own weblog, Rutte admits there has been a wide-ranging discussion with party elders, and that he was ‘peeved’ about the polls.
Opinion polls consistently place the VVD around the 27-seat mark – well down on the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Labour (PvdA). The latest TNS-Nipo poll gives the CDA and Labour both 38 seats.
The Telegraaf reported that Rutte had been told to stop being so nice. ‘He needs to take a much harder line, including against [current coalition partner] the CDA,’ one MP told the paper. Others criticised Rutte for being invisible and taking a back seat to senior party figures such as Rita Verdonk and Gerrit Zalm. Rutte beat Verdonk, the popular immigration minister for the leadership.
The VVD’s campaign for the November 22 election will formally kick off on Saturday.
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