On Saturday 6 October, ALDE Party member D66 held its autumn Congress in the southern Dutch city of Den Bosch. After more than 12 years of leadership, party leader Alexander Pechtold, announced that he would step down. During his tenure, D66 rose from the ashes and returned to the centre of political power.
In 2006, Pechtold got elected as head of list and thereby political leader of D66. While the polls put D66 at 0 seats in the Dutch parliament, under Pechtold’s leadership, D66 obtained three seats in the parliamentary elections, defying all expectations. At the next parliamentary elections of 2010, he obtains more than 500.000 preference votes and leads D66 to 10 seats. At the early elections of 2012 D66 increases again, to 12 seats.
The growth of the party is also felt at local level where D66 at the local elections of 2014 succeeds to become the number one party in several major cities. That same year in the European elections, D66 becomes the party with most votes. In March 2017, D66 increases again, to 19 out of 150 seats of the Dutch parliament.
In his goodbye speech, Pechtold said: “I am grateful to see where we are now. We have achieved our unique place in the political landscape. While the polls are currently not in our favour, it is a situation we have experienced before and which will not confuse us. I am convinced that people will recognise us again as a party that deserves their valuable vote. Don’t forget, we are a stable party in the centre of politics.”
On Tuesday 9 October, Alexander Pechtold also said goodbye to his colleague MPs. The D66 MPs elected Rob Jetten as the new chair of the D66 parliamentary group.
Click here for the full speech (In Dutch)
Congratulations to Rob Jetten who succeeds D66 leader Alexander Pechtold as chair of the D66 group in the Dutch Parliament. Alexander: thanks for your friendship and support. Rob: welcome! pic.twitter.com/whRNW5Tjy7— Hans van Baalen (@hansvanbaalen) October 10, 2018