New Labour party leader Diederick Samsom is under fire for not taking part in this week’s high-pressure austerity talks, with both party members and opinion polls showing a drop in support for the PvdA.
Two opinion polls taken after Thursday’s agreement between the minority coalition and three smaller parties show support for Labour down compared with earlier this month.
In the latest Maurice de Hond poll, almost all the gains made by Samsom since he took over the party leadership have been wiped out. De Hond gives the PvdA 19 seats, down five on a week ago. An Ipsos Synovate poll on Saturday puts Labour on 25 seats, two down on a week ago.
The VVD Liberals – currently the biggest party in parliament with 31 seats – have also lost popularity since agreeing the budget package and are down three and two seats respectively.
Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV, which pulled out of its alliance with the government a week ago, is down two seats in the De Hond poll at 17, and remains unchanged in the Synovate snapshot.
By contrast, the three parties which agreed the deal – GroenLinks, D66 and ChristenUnie – all benefit in the polls.
Meanwhile, research by television current affairs show EenVandaag shows two-thirds of Labour voters support the austerity package and half think Samsom was wrong not to join the negotiations. Some 40% think he was right to opt out.
Senior Labour members have also expressed disappointment in Samsom’s decision. Amsterdam council executive Lodewijk Asscher, tipped by many as a future party leader, said the new deal has many good points for the capital.
Former minister Bram Peper told BNR radio the party has lost an opportunity.
Samsom said on Thursday he could not support some of the measures agreed by the five parties. ‘It is about the whole package. Will the pain be shared fairly?’ he said. In particular he is unhappy at the ‘unnecessary’ decision to bring forward the increase in the state pension age.
Some commentators say by not taking part in the talks, Samsom has kept his hands free to fight against the government in the election campaign.
The Netherlands goes to the polls to elect a new government on September 12.
However, at a PvdA congress in Utrecht on Saturday, Samsom was given the backing of delegates for his stand, Nos television reports. Samsom told the gathering Labour had been invited to join the other three parties and the cabinet, but only if he would agree to sign on the dotted line, Samsom said.
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