Dutch pensions expert Omtzigt retains house seat against odds
NETHERLANDS - Pieter Omtzigt, a Christian Democrat MP in the Netherlands and widely known as one of the foremost pension experts in the Dutch parliament, will retain his house seat in an unlikely victory "against all odds".
Last June, party officials had originally declined to put Omtzigt up for re-election at all.
At the behest of local party offices, the MP evenually was given a 39th place on the election list.
As the party was not expected to win more than a dozen or so seats, this all but ensured his departure from parliament.
Earlier this year, the 150-member Dutch parliament had unanimously appointed Omtzigt as a special rapporteur on European pension regulations, and he is spearheading Dutch efforts to block EU commissioner Michel Barnier's proposals to revise the IORP Directive to the "detriment" of the Dutch second-pillar pension system.
The threat of his departure triggered outrage among Dutch pension experts, including political opponents, with representatives of the Socialist Party and D66 among those protesting against his exclusion.
In the run-up to the election, a number of pension experts launched a website to support his re-election.
The CDA lost as many as 20 seats in the previous election. This time around, the party lost another eight seats and ended up with just 13. One of those is likely to go to Omtzigt.
To retain his seat, Omtzigt needed to win approximately 17,000 'preferred votes'. Although official figures will not be released until later today, it now seems clear the pension rapporteur has more than enough votes to keep his seat, despite the overall loss of his party.
A first tally shows that Omtzigt won a total of 20,198 preferred votes.
According to the local TV news station RTV Oost, preliminary results show a vote tally of 23,000 in the provice of Overijssel, Omtzigt's home base.