In a leaked, confidential document CDA member Pieter Omtzigt comes with a number of harsh reproaches towards his own party. The MP describes that he felt unsafe, was passed over as party leader and that his supporters within the party encountered opposition.
A look at the most striking passages from the 76-page document, which according to political reporter Arjan Noorlander reads as “an indictment not against his political enemies but against his political friends”.
Omtzigt opens his memo with an introduction in which he describes that the recent problems at the CDA are “not incidents but symptoms of much larger structural problems at the CDA”.
The scandal with the childcare allowance is “the most explosive process”, writes Omtzigt, as a result of which the MP does not always feel appreciated and at a number of moments even downright unsafe”.
He refers to an appendix with fragments and screenshots of communication between CDA faction staff and members. After a performance on television program Op1, among other things, he was reviled, according to the shared WhatsApp conversations.
In the section on the allowance scandal, Omtzigt describes how he experienced little support in demonstrating abuses at the tax authorities. On the contrary: “[De ministers] are obsessed with the image and speak with much less involvement about the parents, who are in huge trouble because of government actions,” Omtzigt writes.
Leaked, and later disclosed minutes of the Council of Ministers from 2019, it became clear that the Council of Ministers repeatedly spoke critically about MPs who wanted information about the allowance affair. Hoekstra, for example, said that he tried to ‘sensitize’ Omtzigt, to bring it to reason. Omtzigt calls that revelation “disappointing” in the memo.
The pressure he experienced inhibited Omtzigt in his work. “At a certain point, I was simply afraid of phone calls if I had asked parliamentary questions about the case, but it just had to be done.”
Party leader stripped of
In June 2020, Omtzigt announced that he wanted to become party leader of the CDA. At that time, he was already a member of the CDA committee that drew up the election program. The chairman of that committee thought that Omtzigt should give up that position, the politician writes.
In the end, Hugo de Jonge won the general election, Omtzigt came in second. In December, De Jonge will retire as leader of the House list, according to Omtzigt under pressure from the CDA top. It did not lead to Omtzigt becoming the new party leader, although that would have been agreed with the then CDA chairman Ploum.
Omtzigt describes how it is made clear to him by the board that Wopke Hoekstra will become the new party leader:
Omtzigt is then taken to Hoekstra to be able to consult with each other, he writes. Journalists have already gathered in front of Hoekstra’s house, so that Omtzigt feels “put in front of the block”. “Before I have spoken a word with Wopke, I have to make a statement for the cameras about his nomination as party leader.”
The CDA member then writes how he tries to prevent his party from entering the elections with “an empty agenda”. However, Omtzigt experiences that he becomes “half involved”. For example, his preferred candidates, including Chris van Dam, do not get an electable place on the electoral list.
Later in the memo, Omtzigt describes that at least three candidates for the CDA list were asked who they voted for in the party leader elections: De Jonge or Omtzigt. They indicated that they supported Omtzigt and subsequently came lower on the list than they themselves had expected, Omtzigt writes.
Doubts about financing
Another striking passage concerns the financing of the CDA. Omtzigt writes about this that he wants to come back to sponsorship “separately and confidentially”, but in the memo he already mentions his concerns about the possible power of three major sponsors, who together account for almost one million euros for the campaign budget.
Interim party chairman Marnix van Rij says in a first reaction that he “categorically” rejects that the support of wealthy sponsors has led to influence on the CDA program. Furthermore, he “forcefully distances himself from the CDA-unworthy” statements that would have been made about Omtzigt.
Named, ignored and passed over: the most striking excerpts from Omtzigt’s memo
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