The newly elected leader of D66, Sigrid Kaag, has called for more investment in public services to create a more ‘humane economy.’
In her first speech since being chosen by 95.7% of party members who voted, Kaag said ‘new leadership’ was needed to overcome ‘opinion poll politics’ and the divisions in society.
The 58-year-old former diplomat also explicitly ruled out joining a coalition with the right-wing nationalist parties PVV, led by Geert Wilders, or Forum for Democracy (FvD). In an interview on TV politics show Buitenhof, she said there was no place for parties that promoted xenophobia or ‘anti-Semitic statements that circulate in their groups’.
Kaag’s election on Saturday was a formality after the current leader Rob Jetten, who replaced Alexander Pechtold in 2017, dropped out of the race and interior minister Kajsa Ollongren declined to stand on health grounds. Her only rival was Ton Visser, a 56-year-old English teacher and self-confessed currency forger who lives in China.
In a 15-minute speech, Kaag set out an internationalist vision that reflected D66’s core belief that the Netherlands should be a heavyweight player on the global stage. Prosperity would come from international trade and strengthening European co-operation in areas such as defence and the environment, she said.
‘We are Dutch and we are Europeans. The yellow stars complement our tricolour just as much as the orange pennant.’
On the domestic front Kaag said the economy should be driven by humanitarian concerns rather than ‘profit chasing’ and called for higher taxes on savings to fund investment in housing, education and the public sector.
‘We need to invest in public works, the kind of work that makes our society possible,’ she wrote in a pamphlet published last week.
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