Dutch conservative Omtzigt will lead new party in November election

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Pieter Omtzigt, one of the most popular conservative politicians in the Netherlands, has founded a new party and will lead it in November’s national election, he said in an interview published in a Dutch newspaper on Sunday.

An opinion poll taken by research company I&O before Omtzigt’s announcement had predicted he might win as many as 46 of the 150 seats in the country’s parliament – more than any established party – if he were to form a new party and lead it into the election.

“I’ve also seen polls that predict I will only get half as many, but that would still mean a lot of seats,” Omtzigt said in an interview published in Tubantia, adding that he is not seeking to become prime minister but to reform Dutch politics.

The party was established on Saturday and is called New Social Contract.

“We want to realize our ideals, not seek power for power’s sake,” the 49-year-old politician said.

One of the longest-serving members of the Dutch parliament, Omtzigt was a prominent critic of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s and played a key role in bringing down his government by pursuing a scandal in which thousands of families had been wrongfully accused of child care benefit fraud on the basis of their ethnicity. Rutte led four cabinets in the past 12 years.

Omtzigt had been a member of the opposition Christian Democrats until he quit the centre-right party after the 2021 election. It emerged that his name had been flagged for a “position elsewhere” – presumably at a European or international institution, and not as part of any new Dutch government in The Hague.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer and Toby Sterling; Editing by Paul Simao)