Dutch election news - Part II
A joke about government coalitions, poll indicates an end to the neck-and-neck race, Wouter Bos wins the TV debate, criticism thrown at the economic policies of the nation's largest parties and EenNL hits back. Aaron Gray-Block reports.
Coalition no laughing matter
Labour PvdA leader Wouter Bos surprised observers by coming out in favour on 9 November for a coalition with the Liberal VVD and green-left GroenLinks parties.
Answering with a laugh, Bos said if he had to choose between the three, he would opt for the third option.
"That has never been done, it is new and it would bring a lot of young people into the Cabinet," he said, adding that it would be a fresh approach to government.
Bos later said that he was joking and the PvdA said the interview — found as a podcast on the PvdA website — was not intended seriously. Insiders have suggested otherwise, however.
In reaction, VVD leader Mark Rutte said he preferred a coalition between the VVD and CDA, but did not reject Bos' proposal outright. GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema did reject a coalition with the VVD.
Earlier this week, Bos also said a left-wing coalition between the PvdA, SP and GroenLinks was a possibility.
SP equals VVD in poll
The election battle appeared for a long time to be a neck-and-neck race between the PvdA and CDA, but the most recent Maurice de Hond poll indicates the PvdA is falling further behind.
Since the debate of party leaders on the radio at the end of October, the PvdA has struggled to keep its electoral support. In the latest De Hond poll (7 November), the Social-Democrats can only expect to win 38 seats on 22 November.
That is two seats fewer than Saturday 4 November and six seats behind the CDA, led by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. The CDA remains stable on 44 seats.
The PvdA is losing voters to the SP, led by Jan Marijnissen, which now stands to win 21 seats, equal with the VVD, which is also losing ground.
Led by Mark Rutte, the VVD is increasingly under pressure from the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders. The Freedom Party stands to win six seats.
De Hond said that if voters think the battle for the position of prime minister is all but over, support for the SP and Wilders will continue to grow. A strategic vote for PvdA leader Wouter Bos or Balkenende would no longer have an effect.
Bos wins TV debate with Balkenende
PvdA leader Wouter Bos emerged as the winner of the televised debate on RTL4 with CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende on 3 November.
A TNS/Nipo poll of 1,342 people found that 50 percent of viewers thought Bos had won, while 46 percent said Balkenende was victorious. Bos was given a score of 7.2 and Balkenende 6.9.
The televised debate was the only TV debate to be held before the 22 November elections. No other political leaders participated.
Balkenende said he would not be prepared to enter a coalition with a party that wants to restrict the tax deduction for mortgage interest rate payments.
The PvdA wants to reduce the deduction in the next Cabinet period, stressing that only the richest 5 percent of the nation would be affected.
Bos and Balkenende also locked horns over the PvdA proposal to make wealthier elderly citizens pay to help fund the AOW old age pension.
Balkenende refused to indicate which parties he would be prepared to enter a coalition with, while Bos said he was simply intent on breaking with the policies of the Balkenende government.
Parties criticised over economic plans
The government's macroeconomic thinktank Central Planning Bureau (CPB) has tested and compared the figures of eight political party's on the issues of purchasing power, public finances and economic growth, issuing its assessment on 26 October.
All parties were rebuked for the way in which they plan to pay for the aging population, stressing that not one