2006 D66 leadership election
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The Dutch social liberal party, Democrats 66 (D66), has held a lijsttrekker election for June 24, 2006. The elections were won by the Minister for Government Reform and Kingdom Relations Alexander Pechtold, runner up was the chair of the parliamentary party Lousewies van der Laan.
The lijsttrekker election has been advanced to an earlier date under pressure of the party's largest regional sections. Boris Dittrich, parliamentary leader of D66 until February 2006, stepped down. He came under heavy criticism after the political debate on sending Dutch troops to Uruzgan. He was criticized for making tactical errors to get political support for the mission, which D66 itself opposed. He was succeeded by Van der Laan. Advancing the date of the lijsttrekker election would allow D66 more time to find its ideological course before the next national election.
D66 has had leadership elections since the 1960s, traditionally there are few high profile candidates who are joined by hopefuls, who are generally not perceived to stand a chance. In the media Van der Laan and Pechtold are described as real candidates while the other six are seen to stand no chance.
- Alexander Pechtold, Minister without Portfolio for Governmental Reform and Kingdom Relations. He was chair of D66 between 2002 and 2005. He has campaigned as anti-establishment candidate, criticizing the "dirty and filthy" politics of the Hague. Van der Laan made several personal attack against him because he wanted to re-think the Uruzgan mission, which caused the fall of the previous political leader of D66, Dittrich. Pechtold however is supported by prominent party member, such as D66-founder Hans van Mierlo, who believes that Van der Laan is "partly responsible for the current crisis in the party."
- Lousewies van der Laan, chair of the parliamentary party. She was member of the European Parliament between 1999 and 2003, when she entered the Tweede Kamer. Her campaign is oriented towards the grassroots of the party. During the campaign she made two clear statements: freedom of education is bad for the integration of migrants and the other candidate, Pechtold, has lost his integrity. She has come under some criticism for her personal attacks against Pechtold.
The other candidates are:
- Ricardo Gomila Vergara, who describes his current position within D66 as an "active critical member in congresses and relevant meetings"
- Simone Kuiter, who is founder of the idealist organisation For Love And Growth, which she has campaigned for world peace for the last two and a halve years.
- Carlo Strijk, who has a background in television, he presented the program 'Hartedieven'.
- André van Wanrooij, who was also candidate for the 2003 D66 leadership election, but lost.
- Hein Westerouen van Meeteren, who was ninth on the D66 list for the 2002 election, but did not enter parliament.
- Jan Zelle, who is chair of D66 in the city council of Zwolle since 2002.
A congress will be held in The Hague on June 24, 2006. Eligible D66 members can vote for a candidate in two ways, either they fill in the mail-in ballot they receive on June 8 before June 23, or they make their choice clear on the day of the congress. Only D66 members who have paid their membership dues before May 29, 2006 can vote.
Five counting rounds were necessary to elect the lijsttrekker. Alexander Pechtold was voted the new lijsttrekker. In the final round he received 2.009 of the 3.823 votes, 52.6% of the total in the sixth count of the election<ref>Result at the D66 web site</ref>. Runner-up was Lousewies van der Laan, obtaining 1.752 votes, 45.8% of the total. 62 votes were declared invalid. In the first round Pechtold obtained 1.860 out of 3.905 votes (47.6%), Lousewies van der Laan 1.662 votes (42.6%) and Hein van Meeteren 182 votes (4.7%)<ref>Complete result at the D66 web site</ref>.