In a turn of events, the Christian Democratic Appeal have found themselves without a leader after Hugo de Jonge announced on the 10th of December, that he was stepping down from his role in the party. This news comes five months after narrowly defeating the CDA’s second in command, Peter Omtzigt with 50.7 per cent of the votes. Hugo De Jonge currently serves as the Deputy Prime Minister to Mark Rutte as well as the Minister of Public Health, Welfare & Sport. After he secured his win in July, the Health Minister received public support from prominent party loyalists such as Justice Minister Ferdinand Gapperhaus. However, it is less than three months to the general elections in March 2021. The Health Minister’s decision to resign as the leader of the CDA has put the party in a tricky position. There are several speculations as to who will take over from De Jonge and lead the party in the parliamentary elections coming up next year.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge cited the pressure of leading the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the reason behind his decision to resign. De Jonge asserted that he could no longer combine the responsibilities of all his positions efficiently. Therefore, he has chosen to prioritize the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and be a hundred per cent dedicated to overseeing and dealing with the crises. Even though he knew that the combination of his roles as Health Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of CDA would be tasking, Hugo de Jonge envisages that the coming months will be even more demanding of his time and energy. He stated that “the CDA deserves a party leader who can devote all the time and energy to the party.”
Indeed, the next few months are going to be very crucial for the country. The rolling out of the COVID-19 vaccines as from January 2021, raises new fears with speculations that the vaccines are going to be mandatory even if you are immune. There are many who simply do not want to be vaccinated at all and others who have no faith in its efficacy due to its rushed development. Undeniably, distributing vaccines without ascertaining safety risks could bring unwarranted setbacks now and in the future.
The former leader of the CDA Sybrand Burma, left national politics to become the first CDA Mayor of Leeuwarden and following his resignation, the CDA has been searching for a viable candidate. The resignation of Hugo De Jonge brings the party right back to the search. However, there is a probability that Finance Minister, Wopke Hoesktra, will be chosen as the candidate to take up this position as no one else has stepped up to contend. Speculations have it that he was urged to run for this position earlier in the summer but declined to contest. Nevertheless, his appointment is subject to the approval of party members. There is no doubt that the CDA will have to decide quickly in time for the public elections for the lower house of the Dutch parliament.