It hasn‘t been shining at the CDA for a year and the end doesn’t seem to be in sight either. There‘s a little bit of a bit about the dolls and the course. The current situation originates in last summer’s leadership election.
Hugo de Jonge wins that election sips Pieter Omtzigt. The popular MP comes to the surprise of many and throws high eyes. Such high eyes (it saves just over 1 percentage point) that he is awarded the consolation title running mate. Wopke Hoekstra, beforehand the defeated party leader for many, thanks before the battle has begun for the honour.
Thank you for your vote…
No blessing on the election of De Jonge rest from the start. He just wins and the result is noisy. CDA members complain that their digital voice isn‘t counted properly. For example, the wife of loser Omtzigt says she thought she was voting for her husband, but reads on her screen “Thank you for your vote on Hugo de Jonge”.
The issue is being scrutinised and the election result remains. But in the following months, De Jonge is under attack. It is openly questioned whether he can handle it — especially in combination with his tough job as a coronaminister — and the polls are not going well. Or in the words of an anonymous CDA player in De Cceit: “We’re going to the ravine.”
That doesn‘t happen with Hugo de Jonge behind the wheel, because it stops as party leader a few days after the devastating CCEIT article. De Younger gives the reason that he “needs to go full” for his ministry because the corona crisis does not lurk. Soon after that it becomes clear that Hoekstra takes on the leadership (and therefore not running mate Omtzigt).
front of the camera, Omtzigt says he wholeheartedly supports Hoekstra, but in a document that leaks out more than a week ago, the MP writes to feel “unreal” by the party summit. “There is clearly a preconceived plan and I don’t fit in.” According to Omtzigt, he was promised leadership when De Jonge left, but the party summit denies that.
Omtzigt says he stands behind Hoekstra:
With Hoekstra at the helm, however, it is still not crescendo for the CDA. The campaign does not get any momentum; a skating rink with the CDA leader and Sven Kramer in the lead role is exemplary for that. And in the polls, the party never really exceeds twenty seats. Eventually, the CDA gets fifteen, four less than the time before. Of those fifteen, some five can be written on Omtzigt‘s conto with his 342,000 preferred votes.
What the loss is due to, the party wants to know. To investigate this, an evaluation committee is being rigged under the leadership of former Minister Liesbeth Spies. That research is not finished yet, but the committee is already having a big impact.
The aforementioned Omtzigt note is his contribution to the evaluation. The MP has been overstretched at home for months and makes his say in a 76-page document, which you can safely call explosive. Omtzigt writes that he has been dealt with for everything in the party, is opposed and he has his concerns about the influence of sponsors on the course of the CDA.
“Nothing secretive about”
Omtzigt writes about three donors who gave 1 million euros of campaign money for the elections. “And those sponsors and someone on the campaign team are interested in attempts to make changes to the CDA plans as elaborated in Wopkes New Deal and the election program. I’m having trouble with that.”
A few days later a CDA statement says that the money came from millionaire Hans van der Wind. And it also says, “Donors have in no way been able to influence the party‘s content course”. Van der Wind himself says he has been donating to the CDA since 2006 and that these amounts are simply registered. “There’s nothing secretive about that.” But the fact is that he only started donating to the campaign after Hoekstra took over it as a party leader from De Jonge.
Read notable passages from the memo here:
Omtzigt‘s greatest concern is the lack of a substantive vision. “The lack of substantive debate and the implementation of the principles in practically elaborated policies within the party is a major weakness that has been growing for a long time,” said Omtzigt, who has been in the House of Representatives for the CDA since 2003.
Shortly after the memo was leaked (according to the CDA summit via Kamp-omtzigt), Omtzigt cancels his CDA membership and announces his return as an independent MP after his recovery. “With this piece and part of my sharp vision on the street, it has become even harder for me to keep working within the CDA.”
The CDA summit says the decision “hurts”, but there is also relief. Omtzigt is through his knowledge and tenacity,among other things, in the surcharge affair, seen as an excellent MP. But at the same time he is seen as “tricky” and difficult to work with. This was also painfully reflected by the minutes of the Council of Ministers which the Cabinet had to publish under pressure from the Chamber: Hoekstra says that he tried to “raise awareness” to Omtzigt.
In other words, the idea is that the party might be able to go through again, including the formation of a new cabinet. The CDA Group has lost a seat, but there is no further rupture. None of the other fourteen MPs join Omtzigt.
In any case, according to Hoekstra, the formation has not become more complex. “The playing field – when it comes to who can with whom – looks tricky anyway. So in that sense, it’s still the same.” And VVD leader Rutte tells the CDA to find just as attractive partner as first.
But in the party, it‘s restless. Many departments stir after Omtzigt’s departure and hold meetings to discuss the situation. Departments speak of “violent events” that have deeply touched many and members say they are “in shock.” For local CDA departments, stability is now more important, as the March 2022 municipal elections are coming.
Future of Christian Democracy
A group of CDA‘s calls for an additional party conference because “the future of Christian democracy is at stake”. Within two days, there will be enough signatures to enforce a conference and the party summit commits to organize one by September at the latest.
What will at least be discussed there are the recommendations of the Commission spies, which will come out in a week or two. Furthermore, the theme “the CDA as a broad people’s party” is on the agenda. For some, it brings the thoughts back to the loaded CDA conference in 2010 about working with the PVV.
At the time in the Arnhem Rijnhal, emotions were high and after a chaotic mood, more than two thirds of the members chose to cooperate with Geert Wilders in the Rutte I cabinet: