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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On-air race clash mars Dutch political contest - FT.com

On-air race clash mars Dutch political contest

By Matt Steinglass in Amsterdam

The contest for leadership of the Dutch Labour party shifted from economic issues to racial and cultural ones on Tuesday after an on-air clash between the hosts of the country's top late-night talk show and a female candidate of Turkish descent.

The campaign to succeed Job Cohen, Labour leader, who resigned last week, is viewed as a bellwether of trends among European social democratic parties, which have shifted left to defend social programmes as voter opposition to austerity policies grows.

But economic and social issues scarcely got a hearing in the television appearance on Monday night of Nebahat Albayrak, a member of parliament and former deputy minister of justice who is one of five candidates for the Labour leadership.

Ms Albayrak took offence when the hosts, Jeroen Pauw and Paul Witteman, began by asking whether the party was ready to be led by a woman of Turkish background.

More:On-air race clash mars Dutch political contest - FT.com