Dutch PM pedals bicycle to new time period – EURACTIV.com


Often seen biking to work, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte hopes voters will add to his 10 years within the saddle subsequent week.

The liberal chief, 54, has sought to undertaking a picture of normalcy, stability and frugality throughout his tenure, particularly in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Critics nevertheless nickname him “Teflon” Mark for his skill to dodge scandals, whereas in Europe he is called “Mr No” for his opposition to spending.

Opinion polls counsel that Rutte and his liberal VVD (Individuals’s Social gathering for Freedom and Democracy) are on their method to main one other coalition authorities.

“He’s biking. That is the portrait of a traditional man … a pacesetter of a “in style celebration”, “political scientist Andre Krouwel of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam instructed AFP.

“He does not are available an enormous limousine or an costly automotive with a driver opening the doorways. He does not want it.

“Within the Netherlands you do not have to indicate your energy by way of all these sorts of symbols of wealth. Individuals like that sort of humility.

Prime Minister of Teflon’

A former director of human sources at Anglo-Dutch shopper large Unilever, Rutte entered politics with the liberal and pro-business VVD and have become celebration chief in 2006.

Rutte grew to become Prime Minister in 2010 and used his murderous political intuition and affable character to construct three coalition governments, having additionally come first within the 2012 and 2017 elections.

However opponents accused him of an absence of imaginative and prescient and poaching of their hottest insurance policies.

“We name him the Prime Minister ‘Teflon’,” Jesse Klaver, chief of the GroenLinks (Inexperienced Left) celebration, instructed AFP. “He has no thought, he can waft.

“I feel he is an incredible political expertise, however he is utilizing his expertise to remain in energy himself as a substitute of doing his greatest for the nation and the European Union.”

Inside the EU, Rutte is a divisive determine, particularly among the many international locations of southern Europe. His insistence on frugality angered them in the course of the eurozone debt disaster of the 2010s and final yr’s talks on a coronavirus rescue fund for the bloc.

Beneath his management, the Netherlands blocked the EU-Ukraine Affiliation Settlement, a number of choices on EU enlargement and continues to dam Bulgaria and Romania from becoming a member of Schengen.

However the mud lastly caught to the Teflon premier in January. He and his authorities had been pressured to resign following a scandal through which 1000’s of fogeys – principally from ethnic minorities – had been falsely accused of childcare subsidy fraud.

“Mark does not like change”

In typical fashion, Rutte confirmed up on his bike for his resignation press convention, very like he does for cupboard disaster conferences on the coronavirus.

Extra typically nonetheless, he remained interim Prime Minister till the elections, as if nothing had modified.

Rutte himself is a “man of behavior and custom” who describes himself. He has lived all his life in The Hague, the place he lives in the identical house he purchased after graduating, drives a used Saab when he isn’t on a motorcycle and volunteers as a trainer.

His celibacy sparked media hypothesis about his sexuality just a few years in the past, however he deflected the questions, merely saying he was “joyful” together with his life.

The youngest of seven kids, his father Izaak was a dealer, whereas his mom Mieke was the sister of Izaak’s first spouse, who died in a Japanese internment camp throughout World Conflict II.

Rutte first needed to be a live performance pianist, earlier than becoming a member of Unilever after which coming into politics.

His public picture was summed up by his common hairstylist, when requested what fashion the Prime Minister needed when he lately obtained his first haircut after the lockdown.

“Mark does not like change, he all the time needs the identical issues,” Marco Rimmelzwaan, who has lower Rutte’s hair for 15 years, instructed Dutch media.

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