Why everything goes wrong at the CDA: ‘We are in the corner of mistakes’

His late entrance would shake up the campaign, but a week before the elections, CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra is struggling with that new role. What is going wrong in the CDA’s campaign? And how much time does Hoekstra get?

Sometimes life asks you the same question twice, said a philosophical Wopke Hoekstra (45) when he took over the party leader’s stick from Hugo de Jonge in December. The answer to that question this time was: I will. Earlier, the CDA’s prime minister, who is internally referred to as ‘the new Ruud Lubbers’, had thanked him with the words: “I am more of a manager than a politician.”

The question is what he would answer that question with today’s knowledge. With less than a week until the parliamentary elections, Hoekstra does not really know how to put himself in the spotlight in debates, he made a slide on the Thialfijs (where he violated corona rules) and did not manage smoothly from the first critical questions about the unemployment benefit cuts. that the CDA wants. In the polls, after a small climb at the beginning of this year, the party is now at the same level as in Hugo de Jonges last week as the list leader (on average between sixteen and eighteen seats, in the House of Representatives the party has nineteen).

Collection of loners

How is that possible? It seems to be a combination of bad luck, lack of experience and strong competition. ‘Team CDA’, as De Jonge proudly called it this summer, has out of necessity become a collection of loners at a distance. De Jonge himself is busy with the corona crisis and number two on the list, Pieter Omtzigt, is taking it easy for health reasons. The campaign is ‘in the corner of mistakes’, said former CDA spin doctor Jack de Vries: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, Murphy (after Murphy’s law, ed.) is on the campaign team for a while, ”said the lobbyist and strategist last week, even before the WW issue.

That day, former party leader De Jonge had said that he would not vote for Wopke Hoekstra but for his political assistant. That also became ‘a thing’. And thanks to the slick campaign film – with Hoekstra gliding gracefully over the natural ice – viewers are still reminded every day on TV of the Thialfmisser of February. Hoekstra on skates? Wasn’t there something with that?

“That will add up,” says De Vries, now not involved in the CDA campaign. “How is that possible? You belong to Rutte’s challengers, expectations are high, then you will be watched for. ” How do you kick Murphy out of your campaign team? “By making your point substantively, as a challenger, putting your agenda of change in the spotlight.”

But the biggest CDA news point came by accident and not with the desired outcome. Hoekstra came to visit the live show of the AD and was confronted with his proposal to cut unemployment benefits. Hoekstra answered the questions somewhat elaborately, emphasized that older people sometimes like to continue working and only says afterwards that the plan should be implemented especially after the corona crisis.

Opponents know what to do with this right-wing piece of red meat in the arena, PvdA party leader Lilianne Ploumen calls the proposal indecent, PVV party leader Wilders baptizes Hoekstra into ‘incredible aso’.

In the CDA campaign team, a sophisticated jujitsu movement tries to take the WW stick from the opponents in order to hit back with it. The labor market really needs to be overhauled, the authoritative advisory committee-Borstlap recommends this: “The VVD wants to leave everything as it is, others are also pushing the ball ahead,” says a CDA source. “This is not so much a setback, but more a symbol that the campaign is not really getting started, where things can quickly get bigger. You have to take advantage of that. “

The initiate does not dare to say whether that will succeed. De Vries: “Half of the people do not yet know what they are going to vote, a lot can still happen.

VVD as an opponent

The CDA focuses mainly on the VVD, where Hoekstra is presented as the improved version of Mark Rutte – sporty and with family: political marketers understand the profiling. But Peter Kanne of I&O Research sees few scenarios in which the CDA still catches up with the VVD. “It would really surprise me, the gap is very big. And Rutte always neutralizes Hoekstra’s attacks simply by saying: after all, we did everything together. ”

But the political career of Wopke Hoekstra is really not over in one fell swoop after stabilization or loss next week, CDA members have been whispering for some time. The ‘new Lubbers’ will be given the time, if not this time, then probably next time. The Christian Democrats do not need to go back that far in time for guidance.

In 2006, a party leader ignominiously lost his first election, after which a party committee criticized his ‘invisibility’ and ‘flattening’ in a harsh report: “He must be sharper, more daring,” commented on the ‘drifting campaign’.
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