Mixed messages in second provincial election debate

The leaders of the VVD and CDA campaigns for the senate both used last night’s television debate to stress the importance of ensuring a majority for the government.

Loek Hermans, who hopes to lead the VVD in the senate, said without a majority it will be very difficult for the cabinet to ensure any fundamental changes in legislation.
And Eelco Brinkman of the CDA called on people to vote Christian Democrat to ensure the stability of the government.
Two results
The Netherlands goes to the polls on March 2 to elect 12 new provincial councils and, indirectly, a new 75-seat senate or upper house of parliament.
The current minority VVD-CDA government, supported in terms of economic policy by the anti-Islam PVV, does not have majority support in the senate, which it needs to ensure controversial legislation gets passed.
At the moment opinion polls are neck and neck.
During the debate, Labour, the Socialists and D66 accused the government of cutting too much spending on education and healthcare.
And D66 campaign leader Roger van Boxtel said education cuts are one area in which his party is prepared to let the government fall, if it fails to get a majority in the upper house.
Labour leader Marleen Barth refused to say which policy areas were crucial for her party to ensure the cabinet did not collapse.
There was also renewed attention for the PVV’s call to ban headscarves in provincial buildings with CDA leader Brinkman accusing the anti-Islam party of symbolism.
But PVV campaign leader Machiel de Graaf was not easily influenced, the Volkskrant said in its coverage of the debate. He dismissed criticism as ‘a lot of shouting boo’.

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