Pieter Omtzigt, a popular centrist politician in the Netherlands, has established a new political party and will contest the November general elections in an already highly fragmented political landscape.
Omtzigt told Dutch news outlet Tubantia on August 20 his new party will be named Nieuw Sociaal Contract (New Social Contract). The name comes from a book he published in 2001. On social media, he explained why he made the move. His video on Twitter, now X, already garnered more than two million views.
— Pieter Omtzigt (@PieterOmtzigt) August 20, 2023
The party has set out a programme of intentions but there is no list of candidates yet. “We’re in discussions with individuals, but we can’t reveal any names yet,” he stated in the newspaper.
“Next week, there will be a call on our website for people interested in participating to come forward. We have until October 9 to finalise a candidate list.”
Among focal points of the new movement are “good governance” and “livelihood security”. Omtzigt states that a fresh approach to politics is necessary in the Netherlands. “We’re facing crisis after crisis and are unable to resolve them,” he said.
Other key points he emphasises are what he sees as the need for a revised electoral system and the establishment of a constitutional court. He also intends to tackle challenges such as housing shortages and the issue of “food insecurity” affecting Dutch citizens.
On the European side, Omtzigt is critical of how the euro functions, calling for stricter adherence to budgetary regulations. He also advocates for migrants to be hosted outside the European Union.
Despite forming the party, he said he does not aim to become prime minister if he won the forthcoming elections but instead wants to work in parliament and lead his team. “We want to realise our ideals, not seek power for power’s sake,” the 49-year-old politician said.
Omtzigt is quite popular in the Netherlands on all sides of the political spectrum. He comes from the centrist Christian Democrat party (CDA), that veered to the Left and estranged itself from Dutch farmers.
The new and popular Farmer Citizen Movement was keen to bring him on board but he has decided to go it alone with his new group.
A recent survey conducted by the research firm I&O prior to Omtzigt’s announcement suggested that he could potentially secure up to 46 out of the 150 seats in the national parliament. This count would surpass the representation of any existing political party.
Omtzigt emerged as a notable adversary of departing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and played a pivotal role in toppling his administration by actively investigating a scandal involving numerous families wrongly implicated in child-care benefit fraud due to their ethnicity.
His work made him popular with the electorate but unpopular with his political colleagues. The cabinet that fell over the scandal Omtzigt exposed was eventually replaced by a new one made up of the same parties, which spurred him to leave the CDA.
He was perceived as a voice for the Eurosceptic faction within the CDA. He expressed reservations about the policies of the European Central Bank and, in 2020, advocated within his party for endorsing the concept of the Netherlands choosing not to participate in European Union programmes it deemed undesirable.