CDA voters about Omtzigt gate: ‘If the bottom stone does not come up, this is the end of the CDA’

Anne Tolsma (84), retired, lives in Apeldoorn:

‘I have voted for the CDA and its predecessors all my life. I was raised Christian, then you automatically vote for a Christian party. You just did something like that, I thought later.

‘In recent years I have been thinking more and more often: should I vote differently? I have looked at the election program of GroenLinks, the VVD is too right for me. And I think the Christian Union is too Christian again. I am a member of a Protestant denomination, but I am open-minded.

‘In March I did not vote for the CDA party leader for the first time, but for the number two: Pieter Omtzigt. I only found out quite late that he had gotten himself into the allowance affair. The way he did that appeals to me. I am reading his book. Pretty good book, I just haven’t finished it yet. I think it’s great that as a Member of Parliament he covers such a large area and then uncovers all kinds of things. Perhaps he is a difficult customer for the CDA, but does that not apply to all whistleblowers?

‘If there were elections now, I would not vote for the CDA for the first time in my life. But on Omtzigt, when he starts his own party. My wife didn’t vote for the CDA last time, but we didn’t talk about that. We don’t interfere with each other’s voting choices, so you can stick together for a long time.’ (Tolsma’s wife later says that she voted for Sigrid Kaag of D66, red.)

‘The party leader of the CDA, Hoekstra, mumbles. At first he didn’t want to be in a cabinet, now he does. While he should say: the CDA is taking a break and stands on the sidelines. Because what happened to this party is close to my heart.’

Theo Austria (74), retired and CDA councilor in Dordrecht:

“This is a dire situation in every way. I am a CDA member at heart. In 1974 I was party leader of the CDA in Gorinchem. Now, almost fifty years later, I am a councilor in Dordrecht.

‘I really appreciate Pieter Omtzigt’s ideas. But there is also another side of the coin. Omtzigt is brilliant and unmanageable, is the image I get of him through insiders and through his media appearances. Because of all the mutual tensions, he is not susceptible to nuances. I think he lacks flexibility.

‘I voted for Chris van Dam in the national elections. Because of its authenticity before and during the allowance affair (Van Dam was chairman of the parliamentary questioning committee allowance affair, red.). I voted for De Jonge in the party leader elections. With him I have had the St Matthew Passion sung in Gorinchem and also later I kept in touch with him, hence my choice of him.

‘At the moment I am studying the history of the CDA through the books of Pieter-Gerrit Kroeger. The recent leadership change was insane, but I see similarities with those of Van Agt and Lubbers, with the hassle between Lubbers and Brinkman and later the dubious role of Marnix van Rij and the then dismissal of De Hoop Scheffer, with the arrival of Jan- Peter Balkenende.

‘The CDA must once again sail a recognizable middle course. There is an image of a right-wing CDA, a CDA that may well be on the right-hand side of the VVD. That’s not good. The question of whether Hoekstra should be replaced will arise sooner or later if he does not shape the middle course himself.

‘The party should no longer want to lean on the conservative, agrarian angle. If you look at the defeats of the CDA in the past, it always happened because the ordinary middle class, from the urban sphere, did not recognize themselves in the CDA. You have to bond with that group again. Let’s do a big cleaning first. I don’t want to name names, but in the party leadership too much is done by relative newcomers.’

Hannie Heine-Van Dartel (66), market vendor and CDA councilor in Heerlen:

‘I think it’s terrible what’s going on. I want to know: who said all that in those apps? And who on the board has opposed Pieter? It is very good that the Foundation for Social Christian Democracy has requested a congress. I have signed the appeal: that congress must be held. A clean sweep must be made.

I have been a councilor for 23 years. But I want nothing to do with such politics. In the market, where I work, I hear from many people that they would have voted for the CDA if Omtzigt had been the party leader. They now vote for the PVV and SP, but consider Omtzigt an honest man, a real representative of the people.

‘It is that my daughter Gabrielle was on the list for the House of Representatives (in place 37, red.), otherwise I would have voted for Omtzigt in the national elections. The way I supported him when he took on Hugo de Jonge in the party leader elections. Who should I vote for if Pieter starts a new party? I do not know. Maybe on Pieter, yes.

‘Many people say: Pieter himself leaked. I don’t believe that, for him this is all terrible. I do not rule out the possibility that the Spies committee (which is investigating the CDA’s election defeat) red.) leaked this. They may have thought: if Pieter is gone, the cabinet formation will be a lot easier.

‘I thought Wopke Hoekstra was a capable Minister of Finance, but as a party leader I don’t know. ‘Bad’, he says about the whole situation. Anyone would say that. Just prove that you really think so. The bottom stone must be on top. The party must change, otherwise this will be the end for the CDA.’
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