The Netherlands goes to the polls on November 22 to elect a new government and 26 parties are taking part in the campaign. The Christian Democrats look set to be reduced to single figures for the first time in their history, with new leader Henri Bontenbal hoping to revive the party’s fortunes after a string of electoral setbacks at national and provincial level.
Campaign leader: Henri Bontenbal (an MP in the current parliament)
Seats in parliament: 14 (was 15, Pieter Omtzigt quit to go independent)
For decades the dominant force in Dutch politics, The Christen Democratisch Appèl (Christian Democratic Appeal) has seen its support crumble since Jan Peter Balkenende handed the keys to the prime minister’s office to Mark Rutte in 2010. The party was formed in 1980 as a merger of three other confessional parties that spanned the historic Catholic-Protestant divide.
The CDA and its predecessors participated in every government between 1918 and 1994, and again from 2002 until the present. The Bible is seen as a source of inspiration rather than a diktat. Politically, the CDA is viewed as economically and socially conservative. Its vote has dwindled, like Dutch church attendance, as its rural support base has drifted away to the VVD, farmers’ party BBB and NSC, the party formed by former senior CDA MP Pieter Omtzigt. Website
Main points from the manifesto:
- Raise the minimum wage, without specifying a figure.
- Increase child benefits and replace the childcare allowance system with an income-dependent contribution.
- Phase out top-up benefits on housing, childcare and health by raising incomes.
- Lower income tax – but with an extra tax band for the highest earners – while raising taxes on wealth and corporate profits.
- Increase inheritance tax to counter wealth inequality.
- Subsidised “basic jobs” for those at a disadvantage in the jobs market or to facilitate a career switch.
- Halve nitrogen compound emissions by 2035, but replace the ‘unworkable’ critical deposition value with a “legally tenable” yardstick and require an ‘equitable contribution’ from all relevant sectors, not just farmers.
- Introduce a two-tier asylum system to distinguish ‘permanent refugees’ fleeing persecution for those seeking shelter.
- Authorise asylum minister to designate refugee accommodation sites over the heads of local authorities (the “spreading law”).
- Permanent jobs to become the norm rather than freelancing and flexible contracts.
- Zero tolerance approach to hard drugs, fines for possessing small amounts and fewer “coffeeshops”.
- Aim to build almost one million new homes by 2030, two-thirds of which should be affordable housing. Also more multiple-generation houses and homes with provision for elderly care.
The CDA is currently polling at three to five seats, which would represent the loss of two-thirds of its current group of MPs. Leader Henri Bontenbal has said his predecessor Wopke Hoekstra made a mistake by staying in government in 2021. He has not ruled out joining the coalition this time, but says he will take his seat in parliament as party leader rather than becoming a minister.
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