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When Dutch voters tune into tonight’s debate — the second in advance of the September 12 parliamentary election — they will be watching closely the man who was deemed to be the winner of last week’s debate.
That’s Diederik Samsom, the leader of the social democratic Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA, the Labour Party), is riding a wave of popularity, with Labour rising very narrowly in the polls and with indications that Dutch voters may be giving Samsom his first real look as they contemplate doubts about Emile Roemer, the popular leader of the Socialistische Partij (SP, the Socialist Party).
A former Greenpeace activist who once studied nuclear energy and physics, Samsom has been a Labour member of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, since 2003, and has served as the party’s spokesperson for environmental issues. Hailing from the left branch of the Labour Party, Samsom opposed extending the Dutch military presence in Iraq in 2004 in defiance of much of his own party.
The Labour Party currently holds the second-largest number of seats in the Tweede Kamer — 30 seats to 31 for the party of prime minister Mark Rutte, the the Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy).
Many Dutch voters appear ready to reject Rutte’s brand of austerity, which would normally leave Labour well-placed for the elections. Instead, Labour has watched as Roemer and the Socialists bounded to the top of the polls, tied or even leading Rutte’s VVD. Continue reading Who is Diederik Samsom? A look at the newest party leader in the Netherlands →
Serge Cardin (pictured above) leads the premier of Québec in his own election district by 12 points in the latest Segma poll — by a daunting margin of 45% to 33%.
It’s not a fluke — Jean Charest’s seat is one of the most vital election districts to watch among the 125 seats up for grabs in next Tuesday’s election for control of Québec’s Assemblée nationale, and it’s far from certain that Charest himself will even be reelected. Cardin’s 12-point lead is actually narrower than a poll earlier in the month that showed him with a 15-point lead.
Just yesterday, protesters in Sherbrooke proved so disruptive that Charest cancelled a campaign appearance in his own district. Moreover, Charest has spent a significant amount of time in Sherbrooke since announcing snap elections in early August, indicating that the premier is increasingly worried about his own constituency.
Although Charest has been the premier of Québec for nearly a decade, and he’s won elections in eight federal and provincial elections since 1984 in Sherbrooke, he faces an increasingly tough fight — the latest province-wide CROP poll shows his party, the Parti libéral du Québec (Liberal Party, or PLQ) in third place with just 26% to 33% for Pauline Marois’s sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ) and 28% for François Legault’s newly-formed Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ).
Charest, who is seeking a fourth consecutive mandate from Québec voters, finds his government under attack from both the PQ and the CAQ on the economy, on his response to student protesters over the tuition increase and, above all, charges of corruption, including a high-profile commission investigating whether his government traded construction contracts in exchange for political financing. Continue reading Could this man defeat Québec premier Jean Charest in his own district? →