New Social Contract (NSC) leader Pieter Omtzigt is offering Dutch voters an alternative at the polls. The veteran politician launched his party in August. He told Euronews reporter, Fernande van Tets, he is surprised by the sudden growth of the party.
Voters in the Netherlands will head to the polling booths on Wednesday to cast their ballots in a snap general election.
Mark Rutte, the country's longest-serving prime minister, is stepping down after 13 years in office.
The ruling People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) leader made the announcement in July after his government collapsed in 2021, plunging the Netherlands into an unexpected election campaign.
The new NSC launched and led by former independent and long-time Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) Member of Parliament Pieter Omtzigt, has dominated that campaign.
According to postdoctoral researcher Philippe Mongrain, in contrast to the 2021 elections, the centre-right and anti-establishment NSC is one of two strong contenders. The second is the joint list of the Labour Party and the Green Left, formed in July and led by Frans Timmermans, former vice-president of the European Commission.
A record 26 parties are running.
NSC intends to focus on its main themes of good governance and social security; it opposes further European Union integration.
Domestic issues are on voters' minds: A housing shortage, a cost of living crisis, migration and health care.
Omtzigt wants to bring radical change to the country: "We want to realise our ideals, not seek power for power's sake," the 49-year-old politician told reporters.
His popularity lies in his charisma and his fight against the political establishment.
Omtzigt played a key role in uncovering the child benefit scandal that led to the collapse of Rutte's government.
He said he is somewhat ''dazed'' by the sudden interest in his party.
''I myself am very surprised about the speed at which all this is going. I mean, you're looking at a party which had five members three weeks ago.''
It now has 44 candidates.
One of them is Amsterdam's former CDA leader, Diederik Boomsma.
''New Social Contract is the only party that can tackle the biggest problems in the Netherlands – together,'' he said.
Opinion polls suggest that at least three political parties will be needed to form a coalition government.
Mariken van der Velden, Assistant Professor of Political Communication at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, said that will require compromise.
''This will require him (Pieter Omtzigt) to work together with other parties, and it will require him to get that huge ship that a government is, to change course a little. But he is promising to turn the ship around 180 degrees, and that isn’t possible for any government so he will - in a certain way - have to disappoint people who are hoping that now really everything will change,'' she said.