Mark Rutte, the Teflon boy, says goodbye

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Mark Rutte has starred in many anecdotes in his almost thirteen years as Prime Minister of the Netherlands, but one of the ones that most reflects his personality occurred in June 2018. Rutte arrived at the Dutch parliament with a coffee in hand and, passing through security checkpoint, he dropped it, leaving the lobby puddled. The liberal politician was not content with picking up the glass, but rather took the mop out of an employee to clean up the liquid and then finished the job with a cloth that he passed over the floor with his own hands. Meanwhile, the cleaning ladies watched and applauded.

Gestures like that, of naturalness, closeness to the people and austerity, earned the prime minister who rides a bicycle to the official office a high level of sympathy from the citizenry, which earned him four consecutive elections for the center-right Popular Party for the Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

He goes by bicycle to the official office and on Saturday he went in his own car to present his resignation to the king

At the age of 56, Rutte surprised yesterday with the announcement of his withdrawal from Dutch politics, which will take effect after the elections next November and the consequent formation of a new government, which will exceed the thirteen-year mandate. He is already the longest-serving prime minister in the history of the Netherlands, surpassing the almost twelve years of the Christian Democrat Ruud Lubbers (1982-1994).

The prime minister did not go to the royal palace on Saturday by bicycle to deliver his resignation to King William, but he did do so in an old Saab that he usually parks in front of his house in The Hague, where he has lived alone for many years before coming to power. .

The Teflon politician –or teflon sea what , as he is known in the Netherlands -, this time he could not detach himself from the hot pan of immigration policy, which ended on Friday with his fourth and last cabinet. This survivor, who overcame scandals, controversies and political fluctuations seeking consensus and allying left and right to stay afloat, resigned after failing to get the four parties in his government to agree to accept Rutte's own proposal to severely restrict the family reunification of immigrant parents, children or couples as asylum seekers.

Rutte is 'teflon Mark' in the Netherlands, 'Mr. No' in Brussels and 'Dutch guy' for the Hungarian Viktor Orbán

All the multicolored consensus and alliances that Rutte achieved at home – despite never having achieved an absolute majority – transmuted into bitter blockades at the community level. The Teflon man was Mr No in Brussels for trying to apply the same austerity in the European Union that he practices personally, always aligned with Denmark, Sweden or Austria to put a stop to the countries wasters from the south, like Spain.

On the other hand, the differences were of a different nature with the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, the only ruler longer than Rutte in the European Union. The two could have come to an understanding on immigration issues but they clashed bitterly over civil rights – “European values”, according to Rutte – over Hungary's anti-gay attacks and policies. The softest thing that Orbán said about Rutte is that he "hates Hungarians" and baptized the Dutchman as dutch guy (the guy, or perhaps more disparagingly, the Dutch guy).

After presenting his resignation to King William, Mark Rutte leaves the royal palace in The Hague on Saturday, where he arrived in his own car


“There has been speculation in recent days about my motives; the only answer is: the Netherlands, ”Rutte said yesterday during a speech in Congress, announcing that in the next elections he will not head the list of the VVD, the party he has led for 17 years. He was then asked by reporters about rumors that he would be a candidate to succeed Norway's Jens Stoltenberg as NATO secretary general or that he would hold an EU post. Rutte was ambiguous: he ruled it out in the short term but left the door open.

Asked what was the moment that marked him the most during his four governments, Rutte did not highlight the pandemic but the air tragedy of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, hit by a missile launched from the Ukrainian Donbass, in which Its 298 occupants died, the vast majority Dutch.

Born in 1967 in The Hague, Rutte is the eldest of six children from a Protestant family. After studying History at the University of Leiden, he worked for ten years in the human resources department of the multinational Unilever while pursuing a career within the VVD.

Ambiguous about a jump to NATO or the EU, for the moment he will increase his Social classes in an institute

He jumped into professional politics in 2002, being Secretary of State for Employment and Social Affairs, first, and for Higher Education and Science, later, as well as a deputy. In 2010, at the age of 43, he won the elections at the head of the VVD and became prime minister with the support, among others, of the ultra-right Party for Freedom (PVV).

Rutte leaves Dutch politics and it is not known if he will end up in an international position. For now, the only thing he did confirm yesterday is that he will increase the Social classes in a secondary school where he has continued to teach once a week while he has been prime minister.

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