It’s two days to the elections and it is far from clear where they are going. The Volkskrant goes as far as to say the result will be “spectacular”. So is Wilders going to win? And if Timmermans becomes the new prime minister, who will walk his dogs? What the papers say.
Has the leader of the Nieuw Sociaal Contract (NSC) Pieter Omtzigt, left it too late to say he would consider the top job? the Volkskrant asks in one analysis. Widely touted as the most popular politician in the land, Omtzigt’s appeal has been seen to wane, prompting Sunday’s last-minute “grab” for pole position in the popularity stakes, the paper said.
It opened him up to attacks by main competitor Dilan Yesigöz (VVD) who all but accused him of a lack of patriotism. “It is an honourable job, not something that you do because you have to,” she said.
The NRC is suggesting a different motive for Omtzigt’s U turn: the sudden rise of the right-wing PVV, following a – professed – U turn by leader Geert Wilders, who says he has put his hatred for Islam on the backburner to concentrate on “more important things”.
There is also the thought that the VVD could agree to include the PVV in a coalition as Dilan Yesilgöz said at the beginning of the campaign. She has since been backtracking, saying the gap between the parties is still very wide. However, the NRC says, voters have heard enough and are drawing their own conclusions.
For the left-wing parties, Wilders’ rise from the ashes is, also a “golden opportunity” to spend the remaining campaign days warning people about the horrors of a right-wing cabinet, the paper states.
“I don’t want to wake up in a country where the PVV is the biggest party”, the paper quotes Frans Timmermans as saying. Strategic voting to make the GroenLinks/PvdA coalition a bigger bloc will prevent this, according to the leader of the GroenLinks/PvdA coalition, his eye firmly on the people who are going for D66, PvdD and Volt.
The Telegraaf gleefully smells “fear of a right-wing cabinet” in the increasingly strident left-wing attacks on the VVD and PVV at a debate in Limburg, with Rob Jetten “avidly” joining, and Wilders again saying “who, me?” when accused of political extremism.
Tha AD looked at the trials and tribulations awaiting the prospective prime minister. Their private lives will also be under scrutiny, the paper says, almost audibly rubbing its hands.
Mark Rutte famously said he did not have to discuss his say with a partner, so saving time, but for Omtzigt, who lives with his wife and children in Enschede, the “sacrifices affecting his private life will be great,” the paper predicts.
Frans Timmermans has four children and has just bought a house in far-off Maastricht. He also has three dogs that need walking. Things may be a bit easier for Dilan Yesilgöz who has no children and is the only party leader with an American-style publicly supportive spouse, the paper said.
The final countdown
One thing is certain, the Volkskrant said in a second article, “the outcome of these elections will be spectacular”. The final campaign has begun and the VVD has escaped without being held to account for 13 years of Mark Rutte, the paper points out.
The NSC and VVD are sparing with each other and Yesilgöz is not an ideal punching bag for Timmermans.
Nevertheless, a victory for Timmermans, the paper said, would mean the left-wing alliance had “successfully defied the political fragmentation of recent decades”. And if Yesilgöz wins, the Netherlands may get ready for the first female prime minister in history.