“A huge shock,” says Member of Parliament Boswijk. “A landslide of size, an extremely bitter pill,” says CDA leader Hoekstra. “We already saw that it was not an easy match,” said Overijssel party leader Rick Brink.
The CDA had been in heavy weather for some time. But the now predicted monster profit of the BBB and the predicted loss for the Christian Democrats in many provinces are hitting hard.
For years, the CDA co-ruled many provinces, but that now seems to be coming to an end. Or not? “That is not necessarily necessary,” says Groningen party leader De Wit. In the provincial house, De Wit followed the results evening with fifteen party members until late into the night. He was in good spirits throughout the campaign, now the “hard blow” will arrive.
But in the end, he says, the CDA “does have a really good story”. The piece ‘For the whole of the Netherlands’, where the party comes up with plans to combat inequality, may have been “started too late”, he acknowledges. But he’s not going to “sit down”. Whether in the administration or in the opposition, provinces still “need a middle party like the CDA” to solve problems, he thinks.
De Wit agrees with Member of Parliament Boswijk that the “newly embarked course is one that will take a long time.” And also with Hoekstra, who says that the CDA must “regain confidence street by street”.
For former CDA party chairman Musters from Deurne, that is a thing of the past. He was a councilor for twelve years, three months ago he left the party, the entire group with him. “This defeat was inevitable,” says Musters.
I am not tired of the values of the party, but noticed time and time again that the party leadership did nothing with those values.
During the campaign for the municipal elections in 2021, the Deurne department is already leaving the CDA flags and leaflets in the cupboard to campaign as a “local CDA”. Musters sees many members leave after Omtzigt’s departure. The doubts in the group – after incidents surrounding the party leader election, the handling of the surcharge affair and the course around nitrogen – are also increasing.
In 2022, the faction finds the CDA course increasingly difficult to explain. CDA chairman Huibers visits the hesitant faction up to three times to exchange ideas. Musters sees that the party top listens, but does nothing with the doubts.
At the congress in early November, Musters got the feeling that “it won’t get any better.” “The national leaders were hoisted on stage, and we as members had to clap, yes, for what? I’m not tired of the values of the party, but noticed time and time again that the top did nothing with those values.” Musters says that “for a year and a half they have done everything in vain to change the party from below”. On December 15, the decision is made to continue as “Independent Group Deurne”.
Henriëtte van Hedel, for whom it is “over and out” at the CDA in September 2021 after a “disappointing” conference about Omtzigt’s departure, is also not surprised by this loss. “Time and time again, the party pushed problems ahead. At a certain point, voters see that a real vision is missing.”
The politician, who has been active for the CDA since her student days, is now working on a new party: Alliantie. Together with other dropped out CDA members, PvdA members and D66 members, they are working on a “new future”. Bottom line: “stop with the goat path policy” and “make real long-term choices about housing, nitrogen and space”.
But that is what the CDA is doing and is trying to do, say the party leaders from Groningen, Overijssel and Zeeland. They quote the new CDA story, which must be used to regain confidence.
The former CDA member Musters from Deurne calls this story about combating inequality a positive development. But around the elections, but also beyond, he saw “more often reports with good plans on paper.” According to Musters, the story only catches on if you act on it.
That is exactly what we intend to do, says Overijssel CDA party leader Brink. He wants to get to work “full of resilience” on Thursday. Into the opposition? Or under the leadership of the BBB in a new board? Brink says he has “no crystal ball” and believes that the CDA now fits modesty. It is now first up to the BBB, he thinks. And the nitrogen policy? As far as the CDA is concerned, that is not over, says Brink. Brink sticking rigidly to 2030 is less likely to happen.
Other parties will not just be able to “do things differently on major social issues”, says Zeeland party leader Jo-Annes de Bat. “After all, you always have to work together. For four years, the CDA in Zeeland took responsibility. Once you take that responsibility, it also becomes clear that cooperation does not always come naturally and that society has become a lot more complicated.”
Groninger De Wit thinks that things will turn out well for the CDA. “The CDA will lick its wounds and rebuild.” Just like Brink, he will go back to work “full of fresh courage” tomorrow, working on restoring confidence. Leaving the party, like Musters and Hedel, has never been an option for De Wit. “If the CDA did not exist, I would set it up again.”
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