Applications for the job of mayor of Amsterdam have now closed and speculation is mounting about who is likely to get the seal of approval.
The official job description called for a mayor with lots of management experience, someone with a sense of humour and someone who is able to express their vision clearly. They must also be open to society, keen to bridge the gap between politicians and the man in the street, and a quick thinker.
A poll of 550 voters for the Parool newspaper found a tiny majority in favour of former Labour leader Wouter Bos, but former GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema and Khadija Arib, who is the current parliamentary chairman, were hot on his heels. Each attracted around 14% of the vote.
Halsema is thought by commentators to be the front runner, although according to insiders quoted by the NRC ‘it is by no means a done deal’. GroenLinks is the largest party on the city council and the main party leaders are all keen to see a woman get the job.
However, having a female mayor was not considered an important issue in the Parool survey.
Van der Laan
Whether any of the three will comply with the extensive wish list of the Parool’s respondents remains to be seen, especially since the yardstick seems to be Eberhard van der Laan, Amsterdam’s much loved mayor who died in October. A sense of humour, the ability to stand up against ‘The Hague’, honesty and straightforwardness were some of the qualities mentioned.
‘What we need is another Eberhard van der Laan who was there for Amsterdam and the Amsterdammers. Someone who is a bit street-wise’, one respondent said.
Mayors are not chosen by direct vote in the Netherlands. The council draws up a shortlist based on open applications and then the king’s commissioner in Noord Holland will interview the candidates in May.
The full council then debates the commissioner’s findings and picks its front-runner. if all goes according to plan, the new mayor will then be formally appointed by the king, and sworn in on July 5.