CDA leader and finance minister Wopke Hoekstra has confirmed he will not head the Christian Democrats’ campaign for the general election, following the collapse of the coalition government on Friday.
Hoekstra said in an interview with the Telegraaf that he had taken the decision some time ago and that he considers himself to be “more of a manager than a professional politician”.
Hoekstra took over the role at the end of 2020 when Hugo de Jonge stepped down, just four months after he beat the popular MP Pieter Omtzigt in a leadership vote. De Jonge said at the time it had been impossible to combine his role as party leader and health minister during the coronavirus pandemic.
The party, Hoekstra told the paper on Monday, has “plenty of young talents” who can take over the role of campaign leader. De Jonge said at the weekend he too was not up for the job.
Hoekstra, who is 47, also said he was unlikely to stand as an MP and is now thinking about his future outside The Hague. He was also unwilling to speculate about returning as a minister in a new cabinet.
Hoekstra has faced a barrage of criticism from within the party about his performance, particularly on the nitrogen pollution issue. The finance minister said he is “not deaf” to his critics.
“You always face criticism as a party leader and to be fair, in some cases it was correct,” he said. “At the same time, you should not let it drive you mad.”
The CDA, once a dominant force in Dutch politics, has been floundering in the opinion polls in recent years and currently has the support of between 4% and 6% of the population. The party won 15 seats in the last election but is now predicted to win fewer than 10.
On Monday MP Pieter Heerma, the leader of the CDA’s parliamentary party, also said he would not be standing at the next general election.
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