Pieter Omtzigt, leader of the newly formed party Nieuw Sociaal Contract, has unveiled a list of 44 candidates to contest the general election in November.
Omtzigt said he had carefully selected his list to represent the whole of the Netherlands, including the Caribbean islands.
“It’s the only way we can realise our ambitions for better governance and security of existence for the entire country,” he said at an event in The Hague’s parliamentary press centre on Tuesday where the names were announced.
The former CDA MP founded his party a month ago with a pledge to restore trust in politics and make government more accountable to the people. NSC is running neck and neck at te top of the opinion polls with the right-wing Liberal VVD, with around 17% of the vote.
Omtzigt is still working on a manifesto, which is due to be published at the end of October, just over three weeks before the election.
He has kept most of his policies under wraps so far, but suggested capping immigration at 50,000 new arrivals a year – a difficult target to achieve under Europe’s freedom of movement rules – a modest rise in the minimum wage and “running a broom” through the complicated Dutch system of tax breaks.
‘We need experts’
His list of candidates contains a large number of people with experience in government, including judges, civil servants and an ambassador, but also those with “life experience” of working with the government.
They include Annemarie Heite, whose house was damaged by gas-related earthquakes in Groningen and now works for the agency co-ordinating the restoration operation.
Fifth place is taken by Sandra Palmen, a civil servant who wrote a memo in 2017 urging the government to compensate working parents who had been made to pay back their childcare support after they were wrongly accused of fraud.
Omtzigt and Socialist Party MP Renske Leijten played a key role in exposing the full extent of the scandal, which led to a damning report by a parliamentary committee and the resignation of Mark Rutte’s third cabinet in January 2021.
Despite speculation that Omtzigt would recruit a clutch of his former CDA colleague, only a handful appear on the list, including his spokeswoman Nicolien van Vroonhoven at number two, as well as a former VVD MP, Folkert Idsinga, a specialist in financial affairs.
Judge, banker, scientist
In third place is criminal court judge and former CDA councillor, Judith Uitermark. “I’ve seen in the courtroom how complex society has become and how complex the rules have become. I see there is a need for a government that puts people at the centre.”
Fourth place is taken by Casper Veldkamp, a member of the board of directors at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, while in 17th is Rosanne Hertzberger, a microbiologist and columnist for the newspaper NRC.
Omtzigt said he had deliberately chosen people with expertise in politics or relevant policy areas. “You can only change the system with people who know exactly how the system works,” he said.
Omtzigt has yet to nominate a prospective prime minister if, as polls suggest, NSC becomes the largest party after the election, but has ruled himself out of the role.
“We’ve been going for five weeks. This is the first important milestone, the next step is to write the manifesto,” he said.
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