On Monday evening, six party leaders from the Netherlands’ most significant political parties gathered in the Ahoy in Rotterdam for a final televised debate before the upcoming House of Representatives elections. The leaders were Dilan Yesilgöz (VVD), Frans Timmermans (GL-PvdA), Geert Wilders (PVV), Pieter Omtzigt (NSC), Rob Jetten (D66) and Caroline van der Plas (BBB). The audience watched as they discussed important issues such as migration, climate change, and social security.
Despite their differences, the debate was more civil than previous discussions on SBS6. However, the contradictions between left and right became apparent once again. In particular, the climate debate highlighted how different opinions lie: Timmermans and Jetten want to increase the Netherlands’ climate ambitions, while others fear the costs that such a greener economy will bring.
Wilders (PVV) strongly opposed arguments from the left during the debate. He argued that Timmermans does not speak for “the language of the people.” Instead, he wants to focus on more pressing issues like paying for groceries without worrying about green initiatives.
Similar contradictions emerged in the migration debate. Yesilgöz, Wilders, Omtzigt and Van der Plas all called for stricter migration policies. According to recent polls, most Dutch people seem to agree with them too. Yet Timmermans and Jetten still emphasized that the Netherlands must remain hospitable to refugees despite these findings.
Jetten directly attacked Yesilgöz’s VVD during his closing statement: “We are not facing an asylum crisis at all; we are dealing with a VVD crisis.” He accused Yesilgöz’s party of holding sway over migration policy for twelve years without making any progress on returning criminal asylum seekers or reducing overcrowding in refugee centers due to lack of leadership and decision-making abilities.
There was some consensus among party leaders during the debate regarding housing issues: each party agreed that maximum efforts needed to be made after Wednesday’s elections to boost construction projects throughout the country.