Election call was huge mistake, says VVD elder statesman

The VVD made a huge strategic mistake in calling an election and forming the five-party alliance to push through austerity measures, Hans Wiegel, elder statesman of the right-wing liberal party VVD and a former minister, says in an interview with Algemene Dagblad on Tuesday.

According to Wiegel, the VVD and its minority government partner, the Christian Democrats, should have come up with their own austerity plan when the alliance with the anti-immigration PVV collapsed.
Calling an election allowed the opposition to take the initiative, with left-wing liberal D66, green party GroenLinks and minor Christian party ChristenUnie taking optimum advantage of the situation the VVD had manoeuvred itself into, he tells the AD.
Wiegel is critical of several measures in the five-party austerity plan, such as taxing expenses for travelling to work. ‘This hits not just the man with the big cigar in his car but also the construction worker driving his van to and from a job. It will cost people a big bite of their money,’ he says.
He also says the VVD should not rule out governing with the PVV. ‘If you do that, you hand yourself over to the left and why would we do that?’ he says.
His remarks come at a time when the latest Maurice de Hond poll shows the VVD has dropped from 33 to 24 seats since the fall of the government.
Parliament will discuss the five-party alliance austerity package later on Tuesday.

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