Albayrak, who is seen as one of the strongest candidates for the post, appeared on a popular TV program to answer questions about her candidacy. However, she became offended when both of the show's hosts insisted on her answering whether or not the PvdA is ready to be led by a woman of Turkish origin. “How dare you ask such a question?” she asked the interviewers, adding that she had appeared on the program to talk about politics. This discussion attracted huge interest from the public, including accusations of racism directed towards the presenters on social media websites.
In addition, Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders, known in the Netherlands and abroad for his extreme hate speech and opinions on Islam and non-Western immigrants, strongly opposed Albayrak's candidacy earlier this week, saying that Albayrak should not be standing for the leadership of the PvdA and adding that she can instead stand in the election for the post of Turkish prime minister if she wants. Albayrak refused to give up her Turkish nationality when Wilders pushed for this, based on her participation in the Dutch government, in 2007.
After announcing her candidacy, Albayrak told the press that the opposition had been unable to produce solutions to the country's problems. Already the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Albayrak said the country could be saved by a coalition government made up of progressive parties. “I want to build a bridge between all parties that will make the Netherlands a more powerful and united country,” Albayrak said.
Albayrak joins Ronald Plasterk, Diederik Samsom and Martijn van Dam, who have already announced their candidacy to become Cohen's successor. He resigned last week from his position as the party leader and as an MP. On March 20, members of the PvdA will elect the new party leader.
Albayrak is the only woman among the four candidates for the PvdA leadership. If she succeeds in attracting the votes of women, as well as Muslims, she stands a serious chance of defeating the favorites, Samsom and Plasterk, according to insiders. If her candidacy is successful, it would mark the first time a major Dutch political party has elected a Muslim leader.