Dutch Prime Minister will leave politics after immigration controversy
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will not run for a fifth term and will leave politics after the November elections, he announced Monday.
The Netherlands had baptized the liberal Rutte as Teflon Mark because no scandal attached to his political career and overcame the resignation of three of his governments since 2010, but, to everyone's surprise, the asylum management has now put the end point of the trajectory of a politician who had become an essential crisis manager.
His only motivation: "Netherlands"
“There has been speculation in recent days about my motivations. The only answer is: The Netherlands," said Rutte, 56, when he surprised Monday with his announcement of his withdrawal from politics, a few words that summarize his role as prime minister since 2010, a skillful politician who has given the last 14 years of life to his country.
The profile he had created for himself, both at home and abroad, is that of an eternal survivor and one of the most astute politicians in Europe: he has won four consecutive elections since 2010 and his record for tenure in a European government is only surpassed by the Hungarian Viktor Orbán , with whom he had several scuffles in recent years over the rule of law.
the nickname of teflon mark spread beyond the Dutch borders. The metaphor refers to the coating that prevents food from sticking to a frying pan, and describes Rutte's ability to get out of all troubles unscathed and the resignation of three of his governments.
But in Europe he had profiled as “Mr. No", that "Dutch guy" (the Dutch uncle), as Orban described him, and the "hawk" who refused many proposals from Brussels and led the calls for European austerity at the head of the "frugal four" (together to Sweden, Denmark and Austria), which ended up tightening the rope with southern European countries, especially in the pandemic, although those frictions seem to have been left behind.
He arrived at Het Torentje, his office in The Hague, at the age of 43. He became the first Liberal head of government in almost a century. The key to him was his pragmatic ability to bet on the search for agreements, no matter with whom, strictly applying the polder model, the Dutch consensus.
That is why no one understood that on Wednesday he hit the table and demanded that his partners approve a measure that sought to strictly limit the reunification of direct family members (parents, children and partner) of war refugees, which led to the breakdown of the coalition that he had tactfully led since January 2022.
The worst moment of his career
After the financial crisis in 2010 and the pandemic, the MH17 tragedy - the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines plane in July 2014 in Ukraine that claimed the lives of 298 people, the majority Dutch - was his worst nightmare and the "the most important moment” of his political life, he said.
The liberal VVD party never managed to win with enough of a majority to govern alone, but Rutte had a knack for negotiating parties of all stripes to form coalitions, including tactical support from the far-right in 2010, to the Social Democrats in 2012. and to the same four center-right parties in 2017 and 2022.
The eldest of six children, Rutte was born on February 14, 1967 and finished his degree in History at Leiden University in 1992. Having a talent for the piano, he failed to enter the conservatory.
In 2002, he left the private sector to become Secretary of State for Social Affairs and Employment, and later for Education, Culture and Science. In 2006, the VVD named him chairman of the parliamentary group, which then allowed him to stand for election in 2010.
In his personal life, he is a very reserved and lonely man. In the pandemic, his mother, the "woman of his life", died in a nursing home, he has never known a partner, and he lives alone in a wealthy neighborhood of The Hague, where he meets the neighbors daily as one more.
The "normality", its brand of identity
His brand of identity has been "normality", which has earned him the appreciation of Dutch people of all ideologies, who have voted for him, rather than for the VVD party: he talks to people on the street, teaches once per week in an institute, he cycles to work, lives in the same house for decades and keeps the same dilapidated Saab parked at the door, with which he went to the royal palace on Saturday to deliver his resignation.
His resignation from politics has left the country and the party confused, which still do not have a viable alternative, nor did they already have the "post-Rutte" era.
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