Almost all political parties in The Hague sent someone to Purmerend to campaign for this Wednesday’s redivision elections: the municipality is merging with the village of Beemster. Thierry Baudet was even there three times, he gave long speeches about “poison injections”. Geert Wilders handed out leaflets on the market. Sigrid Kaag also came to hand out flyers and she was at a D66 meeting in Poppodium P3. A Member of Parliament and a State Secretary of the VVD came by, as well as a Member of Parliament from GroenLinks.
There was no one from the CDA, says the CDA party leader in Beemster Arie Commandeur (77). “In these difficult times,” he says cautiously, “you don’t need that as much.” You don’t attract voters with losers, no other party is in as bad a position in the national polls as the CDA. And even without Wopke Hoekstra, the campaign for the CDA department is difficult enough. “Even if you say a hundred times that it concerns local elections, people have the feeling that we get our instructions directly from The Hague.”
Which is not the case, says Arie Commandeur cheerfully. “We never hear anything. Only if we ask for it ourselves.”
He was a German teacher and until 2004 he became a deputy headmaster at a secondary school. He then became a councilor and party chairman. But after these elections it’s over: Arie Commandeur is in seventh place, unelectable.
He thinks things could get even worse for the CDA: if Pieter Omtzigt founds his own party and former State Secretary Mona Keijzer, who lives a village away, joins him. “The CDA should have gone to Pieter Omtzigt on his knees to ask if he wanted to come back.”
Five days before the elections, Arie Commandeur sits at the yellow school bus that the municipality has hired for the campaign, in the shopping street of Beemster. There are candidate councilors from almost every party, with piles of leaflets to answer questions from voters – about the merger of the two municipalities, youth care, the high-rise buildings, the swimming pool. Whatever. They are there from ten to two. But there are no voters. “I had warned,” says Commandeur. “People here don’t come up with something like that.”
In the afternoon, together with other CDA members, he will hand out flower bulbs at a supermarket and when he leaves the school bus, there are folders in his wheelchair from the elderly party AOV, PvdA, de Stadspartij, FVD. “I always thought in the council that you had to be prepared to be convinced by others. You have to be able to say: I was wrong. In The Hague, that counts as political suicide.”
A campaign meeting with Thierry Baudet, on the evening before the elections, did attract voters on the Cow Market in Purmerend: about a hundred people, many men. From Baudet, who talks for half an hour about “the struggle against the global coup” that “starts in Purmerend”, they are instructed to convince as many others as possible. “And defend me.” The local party leader gets five minutes.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of November 25, 2021
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