Campaign Update (9 March)

As we enter the last full week of the campaign, you can expect lead candidates to be as many places as they possibly can – which in this case means, in the media. And unlike two or three-party systems where there are only a small number of people the press really want to speak to (i.e. the two candidates most likely to next lead the country), there are plenty of opportunities going around for media outlets and candidates alike. Hence, if you were monitoring Dutch media, you would have seen Sigrid Kaag (D66) Sunday afternoon on Buitenhof (TV), and would do so again in Nieuwsuur (TV) Monday evening 9:30pm, while Mark Rutte (VVD) will appear on Dit is de dag (radio) at 6:30pm. The Christian newspaper Nederlands Dagblad will host the traditional “Christian lead candidates” debate with Wopke Hoekstra (CDA), Gert Jan Seger (CU) and Kees van der Staaij (SGP) at around 8:45pm. To round off the evening, Hoekstra will head over to Pauw (TV) at 10:10pm in order to participate in a head-to-head debate with Jesse Klaver (GL). Hence, it is possible to pick your favourite news program or two and eventually see an interview or debate with most of the main lead candidates in the run-up to polling day.

And all that’s just the national media. While lead candidates naturally gravitate towards the programs with a larger audience, they’ll definitely make some time for some local and provincial press, especially if its an area to which they have a personal connection. Otherwise, you’d expect candidates lower down on the ticket to take up these second-tier media opportunities.

Forum voor Democratie (FvD) leader Thierry Baudet appears to be the first Dutch politician to have a tweet slapped with a warning about misinformation about COVID-19. Baudet took to Twitter to say he wouldn’t be accepting a vaccination, implying that the death rate was too high, the side-effects were severe, and the long-term effect on the immune system was unknown. Twitter responded by preventing the tweet from being liked, retweeted or replied to, and added the note “This tweet is misleading. Find out why health officials consider COVID-19 vaccines safe for most people.” (I’m hoping this message appeared in Dutch for those with their Twitter account set to that language.)

International Women’s Day would seem like a good opportunity for well-meaning men to brandish their feminist credentials, but often it leads to embarrassing situations, as the CDA’s Wopke Hoekstra found out when he tried to give his women’s day message a personal twist. Hoekstra recalled as a young boy his surprise when he discovered the new car which arrived at the family home was bought by his mother from her salary, and not his father’s wages as he had assumed. While Hoekstra went on to mention how this was a case of how quickly gender roles can manifest in the minds of children, his suggestion on how to combat this contained so many platitudes that it wasn’t clear whether he’d really learned much from this great revelation at all.