Samsom’s PvdA: from opposition party to Opposition party? – What the papers say

Diederik Samsom has become the new leader of the PvdA. The papers are predicting fireworks.

In an editorial Nrc writes that the party has gone for a young leader who likes the ‘musky wild animal smell’ of the political arena, as the late Hans van Mierlo put it. And that is just as well, the paper says, because the crisis and the cutbacks are promising quite a few snarls and growls for the upcoming parliamentary debates.
Samsom is an activist who may steer the party away from the doldrums but he is also good news for the country as a whole: ‘Democracy flourishes only if power is counterbalanced by a strong opposition’, the paper opines loftily.
The question now is how much time Samson will have to prove himself. If Rutte’s cabinet should fall before the elections of May 2015 he may be challenged by other party leader hopefuls, the paper writes. Already the corridors in the Hague are buzzing with rumours that Amsterdam’s social services chief Lodewijk Asscher, who probably won’t be returning after the next city council elections in 2014, will be among them.
Samsom will have to convince the party and the voters that his strategy – long term reform versus crippling cutbacks now – is the right one. Nrc thinks structural changes to the welfare state which will also affect potential voters may prove be very difficult to swallow.
For Rutte, Samsom is not very good news. He has already announced he won’t support the cabinet’s adherence to the European demand for stringent cutbacks. Rutte will have to know that here is one party leader who can’t be trumped by ‘youthful charm’, the paper concludes.
Trouw dons helmet and uniform and calls its analysis ‘Samsom’s PvdA: the war against the cabinet’. ‘This cabinet has to go’, the paper quotes Samsom, whose declaration of war was greeted with enthusiasm last Saturday in Rotterdam. According to Trouw, the prime minister can no longer count on the PvdA if he and his coalition parties can’t work things out with the PVV.
That begs the question of what will happen to the party’s support for the pension accord which was hammered out with Cohen’s support, the paper writes. On the European front, the VVD and CDA are on their own, unless Rutte supports Samsom’s agenda.
The other side of the coin is that, in the face of the PvdA’s outspoken opposition, the negotiators in the Catshuis who are still searching for the missing 9 to 16bn will tend to close ranks and come to an accord.
‘Special majority cabinet’
CDA, VVD and PVV will become closer than they were before and, writes Trouw. At the PVV’s insistence the current discussions also include integration and immigration. Trouw thinks that instead of a minority cabinet supported by the PVV we will soon be dealing with a ‘special majority cabinet.’
Ersatz SP
Elsevier thinks Samsom will turn the PvdA into an ersatz SP. It describes the new PvdA leader as ‘a hyperactive nuclear physicist’ who is no match for Rutte as far as financial economic expertise is concerned. Elsevier is referring to the man who mislaid €50m not very long ago. If Samsom puts his money where his mouth is, he will tear up the pension accord and say no to any pro-European cabinet initiative, Elsevier continues. The paper can barely contain itself: ‘The poison of unreliability will then enter the party and the SP will be happy. Because voters will not be returning to the ersatz SP of Diederik Samsom.’

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