Two days before the House of Representatives elections in the Netherlands, six party leaders gathered in front of a live audience at the Ahoy in Rotterdam for a television debate. Despite some tension, the debate was less heated than it had been in previous days. The Dutch will elect their representatives to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, and this debate was one of the last chances for the leaders to secure votes.
During the three-hour debate, Dilan Yesilgöz (VVD), Frans Timmermans (GL-PvdA), Geert Wilders (PVV), Pieter Omtzigt (NSC), Rob Jetten (D66) and Caroline van der Plas (BBB) discussed migration, climate change, and social security. While there were disagreements on each theme, there was a general consensus that housing is an important issue that needs to be addressed after the elections.
The migration debate was particularly contentious, with Yesilgöz, Wilders, Omtzigt and Van der Plas advocating for stricter immigration policies. However, Timmermans and Jetten argued that the Netherlands must remain a hospitable country to refugees and asylum seekers. Jetten even directly attacked Yesilgöz’s VVD: “We are not dealing with an asylum crisis at all,” he said. “But we are dealing with a VVD crisis because your party has held sway over migration policy for twelve years.”
The climate debate also caused intense discussions among the leaders, with Timmermans and Jetten arguing for increased climate ambitions while others feared the costs of such measures. Wilders strongly opposed these arguments: “You speak seven languages,” he said to Timmermans, “but not the language of