VVD tops CDA in latest poll
2 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — If a general election was held now, the ruling Christian Democrat CDA would lose 14 seats and be overtaken by coalition partner the Liberal VVD, a new opinion poll indicated on Monday.
The CDA is currently the largest party in the Netherlands with 44 seats in the Lower House of Parliament, the Tweede Kamer, but the Maurice de Hond survey of 5,000 people reveals that it has lost a staggering amount of popularity.
The survey said the CDA would win just 30 seats if an election was held today, while the VVD would win 31, an increase of three compared with its current tally. Main opposition party Labour PvdA would rise from 42 to 48 seats.
The VVD’s increase in popularity is due largely to disgruntled CDA voters swapping over. The survey said VVD Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm and parliamentary leader Jozias van Aartsen are performing well, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
The PvdA also owed some of its increased strength to CDA losses, but party leader Wouter Bos — accredited with the PvdA’s stunning electoral comeback at the January 2003 election — has lost some of his popularity.
Suffering heavy losses at the hands of the electorate at the May 2002 election — due in part to sharp criticism from maverick anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn before he was assassinated in full campaign swing — the PvdA looked to a youthful Bos to re-invigorate the party.
The move paid off, but the PvdA and CDA were unable to agree on a coalition government accord — primarily due to differences over the extent of budget cutbacks — and the CDA formed government with the VVD and smaller Democrat D66 mid-last year.
Fortuyn’s populist LPF party, which won a sold role in government after the May 2002 election, was relegated to the opposition benches in January 2003 after its constant internal bickering brought the CDA, VVD and LPF government down in October 2002.
Given a renewed mandate, the CDA and VVD have since announced a record cost-cutting spree of EUR 17 billion by 2007, sparking parliamentary criticism and tough wage-freeze negotiations with unions and employers. Public faith in the government is also notably low.
Opposition parties the Socialist Party (SP) and the ChristenUnie have thus also booked gains in the latest survey. The SP would win 14 seats now, up from its present tally of nine, and the ChristenUnie (three seats) would win six.
The LPF’s parliamentary representation would be reduced by half to just four seats, green-left GroenLinks would win an extra seat and climb to nine and the D66 would remain stable with six seats. Christian party SGP would also remain stable with two seats.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news