De Jonge is front runner as CDA members begin voting for new leader
The Christian Democrats’ 40,000 members have begun voting in the contest to choose the leader who will take them into next year’s general election campaign.
The three contenders are health minister and deputy prime minister Hugo de Jonge, economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer and backbench MP Pieter Omtzigt. A fourth candidate, Martijn van Helvert, dropped out last week after scoring zero points in an Eenvandaag poll of CDA members last week.
Members have until Thursday, July 9 to state their preference. If no candidate secures 50% of the vote a second round will take place.
De Jonge, who has enjoyed a high public profile during the coronavirus crisis, is the favourite, with 47% in the Eenvandaag poll, and is seen by party members as ‘charismatic’ and ‘prime minister material’.
Omzigt, who came in second on 34% of the vote, is known as a tenacious MP and campaigner who played a key role in exposing the tax office’s mistreatment of parents who were suspected of fraudulently claiming child support. Respondents to the poll praised him for his ‘pitbull’ persona but also described him as ‘boring’ and ‘not a leader’.
Keijzer, who lost the previous leadership contest to Sybrand Buma in 2012, got 15% of the vote. She has been quick to distinguish herself from her competitors by stating that she would not rule out a future cabinet with Forum voor Democratie, which 57% of CDA voters said they would not find acceptable.
In an interview with Trouw on Monday, Keijzer said she believed she could bring back voters who feel ‘alientated’ and who are now voting for Forum voor Democratie. But she would not be drawn on whether the Netherlands should take in 500 minors from Greek refugee camps, another issue that has divided her party.
Keijzer said the likes of Forum thrived when voters felt abandoned by the mainstream parties. ‘They feel unseen,’ she said. ‘They miss someone from the CDA who can connect with them. It’s exactly the same in my village [Volendam].
‘These are CDA voters in heart and soul who work for their crust, for society, care for their elderly, do voluntary work and want to leave the world in a decent state for their grandchildren. They need somebody who articulates those feelings.’
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