- The first impression you have of someone is crucial, so political party leaders do their best to show their best side.
- According to image expert Zabeth van Veen, Geert Wilders (PVV) and Thierry Baudet (FvD) look the most like leaders, purely based on the images.
- Dilan Yesilgöz (VVD) has a mix of masculine and feminine traits, and Omtzigt’s hesitation is starting to bother him.
- View Business Insider’s extensive dossier on the House of Representatives elections
The first impression you have of someone is the most important, according to various studies. If this is positive, you will unconsciously be inclined to attribute positive qualities to the other person. You are more likely to overlook any mistakes, a phenomenon that is also called the Halo effect. If, on the other hand, your first impression is negative, it will only take a lot of effort to get rid of it, the so-called Horn effect.
It is therefore not without reason that the candidates for the House of Representatives in the elections on November 22 are doing their utmost to leave a good impression.
In recent weeks, several party leaders have crossed swords with each other. How did they do it? And which party leaders look worthy of prime minister? Business Insider spoke with image expert Zabeth van Veen, owner of ImagoMatch.
Images are very important, according to Van Veen. “TV viewers are viewers and worse listeners.” She recalls an experiment in which Hans Wiegel and Ed van Thijn (at the time the political leaders of the VVD and the PvdA respectively) once participated. They had to give a speech, but Wiegel, without his audience knowing, told a PvdA story. “He still received the support of 90 percent of the VVD supporters,” says Van Veen.
‘Purely based on the images, Wilders and Baudet look the most like leaders’
Now that almost 60 percent of voters still don’t know who they will vote for, it is extra exciting who will soon be in the tower. According to Van Veen, people subconsciously think that you are a leader if you have the following characteristics:
- Length: the longer, the better
- Age: preferably a bit older
- Gender: male or male facial features
- Skin color: a light shade scores better in European countries
Anyone who were to rely purely on the images would probably ascribe Geert Wilders (PVV) and Thierry Baudet (Forum for Democracy) the greatest leadership qualities, according to the image expert. Rob Jetten (D66) is also scoring well, but according to Van Veen he is still too young. Timmermans’ height does not help him.
‘Yesilgöz has a mix of masculine and feminine features’
Of the seven female party leaders, Caroline van der Plas (BBB) has the most masculine characteristics, according to Van Veen. “But she doesn’t look like a prime minister. Moreover, BBB is a protest party and also a new party. People see her as a leader, but not a leader who represents the Netherlands in the world.”
That is different with Dilan Yesilgöz (VVD). She has a mix of male and female traits, says Van Veen. “The top of her face is very feminine, with big eyes and long hair. But the bottom looks a bit more masculine. She has a lined mouth, strong jaw and large nose. Her clothes are also businesslike, yet feminine.”
But there are more things to pay attention to. We take a closer look at seven party leaders.
Pieter Omtzigt (NSC): ‘Man of content’
Van Veen noticed that the participants in the election debates respected each other more than had previously happened. “Everyone is pretty careful with each other.” According to her, this works out in favor of Pieter Omtzigt. “He is really a man of substance. If he were to be fooled, I don’t know how he would react.”
Van Veen noticed that Omtzigt’s sentences regularly ended a tone higher. “That undermines the message and that is a shame.”
It is starting to bother Omtzigt that he still does not want to announce who will become Prime Minister if his party becomes the largest in the elections. “People would like to know that.”
Van Veen does not think he aspires to have the turret himself. “He is a file eater. I don’t think he is happy with all the stress that Rutte is putting on him. And I also believe that he cannot handle that.” But putting someone else from his party forward is also difficult. “Omtzigt is a brand,” she explains.
Van Veen expects that if NSC becomes the largest, Omtzigt will appoint the party leader of another party as prime minister; probably Yeşilgöz or Timmermans. “They do have that ambition. But if he says that, it will cost him votes. Right-wing people will then be able to vote for Yeşilgöz to be on the safe side, to prevent Timmermans from becoming prime minister.”
Omtzigt also makes no choice whether he wants cooperation with left-wing or right-wing parties. “He believes: a good idea is a good idea, regardless of who comes from it. He wants to change systems, but that is not an easy topic and it also makes it unclear to the outside world.”
Frans Timmermans (GroenLinks-PvdA): ‘Wanted connection’
In terms of voice, volume, articulation and hand gestures, Frans Timmermans was a lot better in the debates than Yeşilgöz or Omtzigt. But Van Veen noticed that he operated very carefully. “He was looking for connection, while he is verbally stronger than Omtzigt.”
Timmermans evokes emotion, according to Van Veen. “He has a lot of supporters, but he also causes irritation.”
According to the image expert, the influence of the media in debates is very great. “Timmermans is often filmed from the side or from his neck, which makes him appear stocky and large. The camera position has a great influence on the image.”
Dilan Yeşilgöz (VVD): ‘Tackling and solving problems’
It is more complicated for women to dress than for men, Van Veen believes. “Yesilgöz must look feminine, but powerful. A suit gives status, but it should not be too stiff. A floral dress, ruffles or lace is not suitable if you aspire to a powerful appearance: then she would disappear among those men in a suit and tie.”
Van Veel is very pleased with Yesilgöz’s choice of clothing at the last debates. “In the RTL debate on Sunday, November 12, she wore a purple suit. That stands for peaceful and connection. That is what you want to radiate as a prime ministerial candidate. It is also a color that goes well with her hair and brown eyes.”
In an earlier debate with Timmermans and Omtzigt (seen in the photo below), the VVD party leader wore a blue suit. That color stands for reliability, according to research in the Western world, Van Veen explains.
According to her, Yesilgöz radiates that she likes to tackle things and solve problems. Her voice does need a little more strength. “It is a bit flat and has little intonation. Men find it more difficult to listen to a female voice because of the higher pitch. It is then important to play around with your voice, by taking more pauses and varying the pitch. Then the message gets across better.”
Also read Business Insider’s interview with Yesilgöz: ‘You should not bully companies out of the Netherlands, a tax rate must be fair’
Caroline van der Plas (BBB): ‘Woman of the people’
“At Van der Plas the following applies: ‘What you see is what you get.’ She is completely herself,” says Van Veen. She was happy that she did not wear childish earrings and a slightly more serious necklace in the RTL debate on Sunday, November 12, although she believes a slightly more well-groomed appearance wouldn’t hurt.
According to her, the BBB party leader should not be tinkered with too much. “She is a woman of the people and of the farmers. You shouldn’t change her too much. That wouldn’t make it any better in terms of reliability.”
That Van der Plas looked there with her black sweater and Dr. Martens shoes not looking like a prime minister is not a problem, according to Van Veen. “She has already said that she does not want to become prime minister. Everyone understands that you cannot send her to Europe. That is not an issue.”
In the polls, BBB appears to be past its peak. According to Van Veen, this is not due to Van der Plas, but due to the advance of Omtzigt. “He is more experienced and more of a politician. He is pulling voters away from BBB.”
Read here Business Insider’s interview with Van der Plas: ‘We assume that both Omtzigt and BBB will get more seats than in the polls’
Geert Wilders (PVV): ‘It shows that he wants to participate in government’
According to Van Veen, Wilders radiates that he wants to participate in government. “He adopts a different attitude than before and does not attack others personally.”
His hair in Sunday’s debate was a bit neater and shorter in the back. “That looked a bit more businesslike. Here it was on X [voorheen Twitter, red.] talked about a lot.”
Wilders wore a dark blue suit and, according to Van Veen, that looks reliable. There was less contrast because he was also wearing a blue tie. “That looks a little less dominant,” says Van Veen.
Esther Ouwehand (Party for the Animals): ‘Co-player instead of opponent’
Her floral blouse among men with ties gave Ouwehand a lower status than other party leaders in Sunday’s RTL debate, says Van Veen. “She also has a dreamy look in her eyes. That makes her cute.”
Through her half-closed eyes it seems as if she has difficulty looking at the misery in the world. “Every fiber radiates that she thinks things are not going well,” says Van Veen. “But she is not an idealist for nothing, so that fits in.”
Ouwehand was less visible in the debate. “But that was also the intention. She profiled herself very clearly as a fellow player rather than an opponent. Moreover, she is not a pit bull type anyway. And the themes discussed were also less the topics of her party.”
Lilian Marijnissen (SP): ‘Not aggrieved, but moving on’
Marijnissen received a lot of praise for her performance in the RTL debate on November 12. “The SP sometimes has the tendency to manifest itself as a victim party, but that did not happen. Marijnissen did not look aggrieved, but radiated that she wanted to move on.”
According to Van Veel, she looked professional and had a powerful voice.
Rob Jetten (D66): ‘People either like him or don’t like him, regardless of the D66 message’
Jetten also did well in the debate, says Van Veen. “He had his knowledge ready and dared to go against others. And he looked good.”
The only downside is that he often seems to laugh when he talks. “It seems like he is happy that he can say something.” According to Van Veen, he represents the young people in the Netherlands. “But even if he does well, people either like him or don’t like him, regardless of the D66 message.”