In the lead-up to the House of Representatives elections in the Netherlands, six party leaders gathered for a televised debate at Ahoy in Rotterdam. The theme of the discussion was centered around migration, climate change, and social security. While the debate was more civilized than expected, sharp contrasts between left and right were once again evident.
The first two themes sparked intense debates among the leaders. Although it was less heated than last week’s SBS6 debate, where leaders struggled to get each other to speak their mind, the climate debate brought out how their positions differed. Timmermans and Jetten urged the Netherlands to increase its climate ambitions, while others feared that such measures would result in higher costs for a greener economy.
Wilders (PVV) strongly opposed arguments from the left during the climate debate. He argued that they were ignoring “the language of the people” and focusing too much on “paying for groceries.” Wilders also emphasized that there were bigger problems facing society beyond climate change in coming years.
In terms of immigration policy, Yesilgöz (VVD), Wilders (PVV), Omtzigt (NSC), and Van der Plas (BBB) all advocated for stricter policies, while Timmermans and Jetten continued to emphasize that the Netherlands should remain hospitable to refugees. Jetten even directly attacked Yesilgöz’s VVD during this segment of the debate by calling it a “crisis” caused by their party’s 12-year hold on migration policy. Despite this difference of opinion, all leaders agreed that housing construction should be a top priority after tomorrow’s elections.