The debate was co-organised by EFR, the faculty association of the Erasmus School of Economics, and was attended by some 1,800 students. Afterwards, they told what they thought of the debate, their voting plans and whether the debate influenced their choice.

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Lotte is enthusiastic about Dilan Yeşilgöz. Image credit: Daan Stam

“I am actually positively surprised by Dilan’s (Dilan Yeşilgöz, eds.) VVD”, says Lotte (19). The Business Administration and Law student is not yet sure what she wants to vote for. “I did come with the idea that I would vote on the right, but I was still in doubt between Dilan and Pieter Omtzigt’s NSC.” Lotte chooses the right because she feels that the hard work for her studies should be rewarded. “I’m doing a double study and I have a lot of ambition, so then it’s nice to know you’re not going to be penalised for that.” With other parties, she’s not so sure that won’t happen. “I think it’s a waste to put so much effort in a double study and then having the prospect of having less money at the end of the month because of the plans of left-wing parties, such as Frans Timmermans’.”

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Jelle (19) is also on the right side of the political spectrum, but he is already sure who will receive his vote. “I was already planning to vote for JA21, I don’t think the debate has changed anything actually.” Despite not a single issue standing out for him during this election, for the Business Administration student, economics always plays a big part in his considerations. “I always try to see how issues affect the economy, so when I fill in a voting guide or look at the party programmes, I keep that in the back of my mind. That led me to this choice.”

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For Jelle, the choice was already clear before the debate. Image credit: Daan Stam

Jelle enjoyed the debate. “I found it very interesting to watch, I had never attended such a debate before”, he said. He was also surprised by one of the political leaders. “I must say I found some very strong, even though I would never vote for them. For example, Rob Jetten. I did think he managed to bring his message with a lot of conviction.”

Strategic voting?

Anna-Fien (23) was also impressed by the D66 leader. “He was very strong on content and also played in the hands of the student audience”, she said. The Economics master’s student did not see that in Geert Wilders (PVV). “I found Wilders really funny at certain moments, but it was all on the edge. He also did some personal attacks, like against Jetten when he said: ‘The last seconds of your political career are over.'”

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Anna-Fien is still considering voting strategically. Image credit: Daan Stam

Anna-Fien considers voting strategically. “In principle, I am in favour of D66, but I find it difficult if the PVV might become the biggest. I would want to avoid Wilders becoming prime minister, so then I might consider the VVD.” She doesn’t consider a strategic vote for another major party, the GroenLinks-PvdA combination, as a serious option. “That whole strategic vote for GroenLinks, I don’t know if that’s very realistic and if they will then actually get into a government, because it is quite clear that mainly right-wing parties get a lot of votes and are likely to form a cabinet.”

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Gustave wants to see how other list leaders on the left are doing. Image credit: Daan Stam

Gustave (21) is also still keeping the option of a strategic vote open, but he actually wants to vote Partij voor de Dieren (Party for the Animals). “I’m not really a floating voter, but I wanted to see how Frans Timmermans debates, what points he brings”, he said. The Delft master’s student in Chemical Engineering came to the debate to see how the other parties on the left are doing. “The Partij voor de Dieren is looking for a partnership with GroenLinks-PvdA and D66, so it is in my interest to see how things go today.” Gustave is pleased with progressive leaders Jetten and Timmermans and also cautiously positive about the polls. “You never know, I might vote strategically for the GroenLinks-PvdA after all”, he says.

Who is not into strategic voting is Lisa Maria (21). She is opting for a smaller party instead. She is pretty sure about her vote for Partij voor de Dieren, because she fears a very right-wing cabinet. “That’s why I’m voting far-left, to hold off the right-wing cabinet a bit, to pull the spectrum a bit more to the left.”About GroenLinks-PvdA list leader Timmermans, Lisa Maria is not very pleased. “He was not that strong in his talk and when you have a debate like that it’s just a puppet show anyway, you just have to know what you want to say. I never agreed with Mark Rutte, but at least he was a good debater.”

Doubting until the voting booth

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Shanaya (left) and Lisa Maria (right) came to watch the debate together. Image credit: Daan Stam

Shanaya (22), who is at the debate with Lisa Maria, is still struggling with her choice. Before the debate, she had her eye on several parties. “I did know which direction I wanted to go, towards the left. But I didn’t know which party yet, I was very much in doubt between four of them.” Shanaya was also enthusiastic about Jetten. “D66 is on my list now, though. It’s not quite left, a bit more in the middle, but it’s a serious option now.”

To determine her choice, the Psychology master’s student will delve more into the parties. “I think I will do some more research and read programmes, because then you do get the full picture.” She is even considering rewatching debates, but: “In those debates, you get a lot of one-liners and things that are unsubtle, so then the programmes are a good addition.” Shanaya thinks she will hesitate until the last moment. “I am really a floating voter so maybe I will only decide in the voting booth what I will do”, she says.

EM_stemmen_verkiezingen elections 2023_ City hall Heijplaat Student association Stadium Gallery Paddle Steamer _ENG_IkRotterdam

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