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    HomeNewsHeadlinesA political survivor, Dutch PM Mark Rutte may seek fifth term

    A political survivor, Dutch PM Mark Rutte may seek fifth term

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    AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, known for his political stamina and survival skills during his 12-year tenure, expressed his interest in seeking a fifth term despite the sudden collapse of his fourth government due to splits over migration policy. However, he could face the toughest elections of his career.

    Last year, Rutte, 56, made history by becoming the longest-serving prime minister in Dutch history. He has led the conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) for 17 years, navigating countless crises and firming immigration policies in response to demands from right-wing parties to close the country’s borders.

    Responding to a question about continuing in a role of political leadership, Rutte stated on Friday that it was ultimately up to his party, but he added, “If you were to ask me to decide now, the answer is obviously ‘yes’ because I have the energy and the ideas.”

    Rutte, often referred to as “Teflon Mark” for his ability to survive political challenges, has faced mounting criticism in recent years for his handling of significant policy issues such as farm policy, climate change, social welfare, and the Groningen gas field crisis.

    One of the recent scandals that surrounded Rutte’s previous government involved childcare subsidies. During the crisis, he claimed to have “no active memory” of his own earlier statements and admitted to deleting text messages from his phone.

    The current political storm arose from “a clash of values” within the four-party coalition government, specifically over immigration. While smaller coalition parties advocated for the rights of children and parents seeking asylum in the Netherlands to be reunited, Rutte’s VVD sought restrictions.

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    In the upcoming autumn election, Rutte’s main rival will be a farmers’ protest party that disrupted the political landscape and gained a majority of seats in the Dutch Senate following provincial polling in March. Although many Dutch voters express fatigue with Rutte’s leadership, there is no clear alternative.

    Despite facing ups and downs domestically, Rutte has remained an active figure on Europe’s political stage. He formed his first coalition in 2010 and his fourth in January 2022, following an election that was largely seen as a referendum on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among current European national leaders, only Hungary’s Viktor Orban has served longer.

    Rutte, who is unmarried, resides in the same house in The Hague that he purchased with his college friends. It is common to spot him cycling to cabinet meetings or state visits while enjoying an apple. In addition, he continues to teach a social studies class at a high school in the city alongside his political career.

    Although he is often considered for high-level international positions at the EU or NATO, Rutte has expressed his contentment with his current role, stating that he believes he has “the best job in the world” and does not intend to leave Dutch politics. “I feel like I’m getting to the halfway point,” he humorously remarked to journalists last year.

    (Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Helen Popper)



    Credit: The Star : News Feed

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