THE HAGUE, March 7 (Xinhua) -- Members of the Dutch ruling party VVD (Liberals) have expressed their annoyance in two newspapers on Tuesday about the campaign of party leader Mark Rutte with forthcoming Dutch elections drawing near.
Although the VVD heads the latest polls and might become the largest party again, the latest polls suggested that the liberals could lose at least 10 seats in House of Representatives compared to the last elections in 2012.
Five years ago the VVD became the largest party with 41 seats, but according to the latest poll by Peilingwijzer, which combines several polls, the VVD will secure 23 to 27 seats.
The right-wing populist Party for Freedom (PVV) has dropped in the polls in recent months and are on 21 to 25 seats now.
VVD members accused Rutte in De Telegraaf and Het Algemeen Dagblad of being unconvincing in the campaign, but also that the VVD campaign tactic failed.
"Plan A was not solid, but there is no Plan B," a VVD member of the parliament told Het Algemeen Dagblad. Plan A was a battle between the VVD and the PVV, with the VVD in the end hoping for strategic votes on the party by normally non-VVD voters to avoid the PVV becoming the largest party.
"But the PVV will not govern at all," said former Christian Democrats CDA strategist Jack de Vries in De Telegraaf. "All parties have excluded Geert Wilders. So there is no reason to vote strategically for the VVD by non VVD voters to keep Wilders from becoming the Prime Minister."
"Actually, everyone at the VVD is dissatisfied with the campaign," a "VVD insider" told De Telegraaf. "Wilders makes no substantive point where we can argue against and does not come to debates. It's like shadow boxing. The person you want to fight, is not there."
"It doesn't look like Wilders will be as big as everyone thought, so this strategy does not look good," says another "prominent VVD member" in Het Algemeen Dagblad. An "experienced VVD campaigner" added: "Because a conflict with Wilders does not come off the ground, it becomes a three-men fight on the right wing with the CDA."
The Christian Democrats CDA have moved forward slightly in the latest polls and are the third party with 18 to 20 seats now according to Peilingwijzer. But the request of CDA leader Sybrand Buma to participate in the debate scheduled between Rutte and Wilders at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam next Monday was rejected.
Rutte also saw no reason to add Buma to the debate. The prime minister avoids confrontation with the CDA, because he still seems willing to continue with the two-party battle tactic with the PVV. On Monday, just two days ahead of the March 15 Dutch general election, he gets his chance to present himself in the first debate with Wilders in this election campaign.