The Liberals (VVD) and Labour (PvdA) have now published their reports into last year’s election woes, which led to large losses in support for both parties.
The VVD report was clear: the leadership battle between Mark Rutte and Rita Verdonk, and Verdonk’s continuing leadership ambitions, hurt the party and are continuing to do so.
The PvdA report concluded that the party leadership was to blame and had failed to get the message across – the Socialists benefited hugely from the PvdA’s dithering.
Labour lost 10 of its 42 seats in the general election, yet still managed to end up in government. Party leader Wouter Bos is finance minister and seems to have successfully squashed demands that he resign as party leader – not because of the election debacle, but because as a minister in a coalition government, he cannot fight the PvdA corner. And no-one has emerged to challenge him.
For its part, the VVD lost six of its 28 seats in parliament and found itself in opposition. Now Rutte and Verdonk are both ordinary MPs. And while Rutte has tried to exert his authority and silence Verdonk, both she and her populist rhetoric are still waiting in the wings. Verdonk is unlikely to go away. Other challenges are also being hinted at.
Both Bos and Rutte failed during the general election, but Rutte is the only one likely to pay the price.
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