Former European “Green Pope” Frans Timmermans was set to become one of the most important power brokers in Dutch politics, but new polls show his left-wing group is already sliding just weeks after his return from Brussels.
Timmermans, the European Commission’s former vice-president, is planning to be the figurehead of a Dutch election programme backed by a combined list of Socialists (PvdA) and Greens (GroenLinks), though his group has fallen from favour among voters over the past month ahead of the national elections on November 22.
He appears to be bleeding support to a new outfit set up by Pieter Omtzigt, a popular centrist politician who created the New Social Contract (NSC) party. The latest poll by EenVandaag and Ipsos shows that Timmermans’ group would lose seven seats compared to polling from just last month.
If the elections were held today, the combined list of Socialists and Greens would garner 20 seats, a slight improvement on their current number in parliament but well below the 27 seats that August polls suggested they could win.
Rather than being the leading formation in The Hague as they had hoped, Timmermans’ troops would come in third, while the liberal VVD and the New NSC would be the main rivals dominating the Dutch political landscape.
The NSC is now polling well and that suggests it could win 27 seats. The VVD, under the leadership of Dilan Yeşilgöz who replaces outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as party chief, would lose some ground but, with 26 seats, could still prove pivotal.
The strong gains made by PVDA/GroenLinks occurred in July when Timmermans became the main candidate to lead the list. Dutch media dubbed it the “Timmermans effect” but that now seems to have all but evaporated.
Observers say the main reason for his stuttering campaign this is the centrist approach of the NSC party, which focuses on “livelihood security”.
Omzight’s NSC seems to attract people from all fronts, with Geert Wilders’ PVV, the hard-left SP party, and especially the Farmer Citizen Movement (BBB) seeing voters shift allegiance to the NSC.
The BBB did limit the damage by attracting some new names for the upcoming elections, which has pulled in supporters of the centre-right JA21 party and also attracted a number of politicians from that group.
The forecasted seat distribution is based on research by Ipsos of a representative sample of 1,031 Dutch people entitled to vote. The data was collected from September 1 to 4, 2023.