Balkenende gains on Bos in latest poll

17th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

17 July 2006, AMSTERDAM — A new opinion poll appears to confirm the gap between Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats (CDA) and the main opposition Labour Party (PvdA) is shrinking.

17 July 2006

AMSTERDAM — A new opinion poll appears to confirm the gap between Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats (CDA) and the main opposition Labour Party (PvdA) is shrinking.

If the general election was held now, the CDA would win 39 seats (a drop of four) and the PvdA would take 43 (a gain of one), according to the internet-based poll by the Maurice de Hond organisation. De Hond's poll the previous week put the PvdA on 44 seats and the CDA on 38.

Due to the collapse of Balkenende's second coalition government at the end of June, the general election has been brought forward to November from May 2007.

Conventional political wisdom would suggest Balkenende and his Liberal Party (VVD) coalition allies would have a better chance in 2007. Harsh government reforms over the last few years are beginning to pay off, and the two government parties pegged their hopes on a recovery of their electoral support by mid 2007.

The Cabinet crisis caused by junior coalition partner D66 withdrawing its support has accelerated the election timetable. But the CDA seems to be recovering its popularity faster than anyone, including Balkenende, expected.

Wouter Bos's Labour Party won an impressive victory in the local elections in March, and polls at the time suggested this would translate into 50 seats in the 150-seat national election. The CDA would have won 33 seats, according to the polls.

But if local elections were held now, the CDA - thanks to a low turnout - would emerge as the biggest party, De Hond said. Bos warned last week that it will be a neck-and-neck race between the PvdA and CDA.

The VVD has slipped back in the polls, according to De Hond. The bounce in support generated by the high-profile leadership contest seems to have ebbed. De Hond said the Liberals would win 29 seats if the election was held now. This is one less than in the previous poll and only one more than it won in 2003.

Other parties were largely unchanged in the latest poll. The Socialist Party continues to perform strongly and are tipped to win 16 seats, a gain of seven compared with the last election in 2003. Green-left GroenLinks would retain its eight seats and the populist LPF would lose its eight.

D66, De Hond said, is on course to lose three of its six seats. The small Christian party ChristenUnie would increase from three to five seats and the orthodox protestant group SGP would retain its two seats.

Muslim critic Geert Wilders drops one seat compared to the previous poll to three seats and the Party for the Animals (PvdD) would enter parliament for the first time with one seat, De Hond said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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