The new Dutch cabinet is complete, but not without controversy

Marjolein Faber in parliament. Photo: Peter Hilz ANP

After weeks of speculation, it appears that the ministerial line up for the next Dutch government is almost complete.

Dick Schoof’s first cabinet will have 15 ministers, five for the far right PVV, four each for the VVD and NSC, and two for the pro-countryside BBB. The ministers will be supported by 13 junior ministers but not all those names have yet been finalised.

The cabinet line-up includes seven women and eight men as well as Schoof. All four NSC candidates are former members of the CDA as is one of the two BBB representatives.

Marjolein Faber (PVV): minister for asylum and migration
Marjolein Faber is perhaps best known for her statement “my tweet is right” after circulating a post on social media that the suspect in a Groningen stabbing had a “north African appearance” when he was known to be white.

Faber is known as a provocative PVV backer while a provincial councillor and senator for the party. She was also caught out in 2015 giving thousands of euros worth of contracts to a company run by her son. She switched to the lower house in the November election but since then has submitted no questions, motions or amendments, the NRC said in its mini portrait.

Faber replaces Geert Wilders’ first choice as minister after Israel-born Gidi Markuszower failed to get through the security check. 

Reinette Klever (PVV):  minister for foreign trade and development aid
The PVV’s candidate for the new post of minister for foreign trade and development aid is reported to be former MP Reinette Klever, who sat in parliament between 2012 and 2017.

In a debate in 2016 she called for the development aid budget to be scrapped to pay for plans to get rid of the own risk element in health insurance. Klever will now be in charge of a department in which the aid budget is being slashed by €2.4 billion.

After leaving parliament she complained that the PVV tag her CV made it difficult to get a job.She is also a member of the board and commentator at far right broadcaster Ongehoord Nederland, defending the channel’s “unique sound” by retweeting a social media message about its coverage of “mass immigration, climate hysteria, the coronavirus crisis and global organisations”.

Dirk Beljaarts (PVV): minister of economic affairs
A former hotel manager, Beljaarts headed the hospitality industry lobby group Horeca Nederland for five years before resigning this March. A fervent supporter of his sector during the coronavirus pandemic, he was not afraid of picking up the phone and calling ministers to protest. He also initiated court action against the government over the compulsory closure of bars.

His links to Wilders may date from that time but Beljaarts is half Hungarian and Wilders’ wife comes from Hungary, so there could be another connection. Beljaarts is also honorary consul for Hungary in the Netherlands, a Hungarian government appointment.

Fleur Agema (PVV): minister for health, welfare and sport
Fleur Agema, 47, has been a fairly uncontroversial MP on behalf of the far right PVV since 2006, specialising in healthcare, and has been number two on the PVV list next to Geert Wilders since then.

Agema suffers from MS and was widely tipped for the health role. Her partner is fellow PVV parliamentarian Léon de Jong and together they have a daughter.

Barry Madlener (PVV): minister of infrastructure and waterways
Barry Madlener (56) has been an MP since the founding of the far-right PVV in 2006 apart from between 2009 and 2012 when he served the party in the European parliament.

Madlener has been party spokesman on a wide variety of issues and called for the NS and ProRail, the passenger and infrastructure arms of the Dutch public railway system, to be merged into a single company. The new government has pledged to build a railway link between Lelystad and Groningen.

Eelco Heinen (VVD): minister of finance
Heinen has been an MP for the past three years, during which he has become the VVD’s finance spokesman and a major campaigner for lower government spending. Heinen, who is 44, once said his only aim by being involved in politics is to “spend less”. Prior to becoming an MP, he worked for the party in parliament for 10 years.

David van Weel (VVD): justice and security
Former navy man David van Weel is a new face in The Hague but has been a senior Nato officials since 2020 as the right hand man of Jens Stoltenberg. He has had a higher public profile since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, appearing regularly in the media to talk about aid for Ukraine and the Russian threat.

Prior to that he was part of the armed services, and acted as advisor to Mark Rutte on military and foreign affairs issues from 2016 to 2020.

Ruben Brekelmans (VVD): Defence
At 37, Ruben Brekelmans will be the youngest member of the cabinet and is widely regarded as one of the VVD’s new talents. As an MP, he has been a major supporter of Ukraine in the war with Russia.

He studied economics and global politics and was a civil servant and political assistant to Mark Harbers as justice minister before becoming an MP in 2021. He was also a major backer of the outgoing government’s plans to ensure refugees were spread more fairly around the country – plans the new government plans to tear up.

Sophie Hermans (VVD): Climate and green growth
Sophie Hermans, 43, was party leader Dilan Yesilgöz right-hand woman during the cabinet negotiations and a long-term advisor to Mark Rutte.

She will head the newly created climate and green growth ministry, which will likely be put together with chunks of the current economic affairs department.

It is worth noting that she has now agreed to join a cabinet put together by Wilders, who has called her Rutte’s “bag carrier” on several occasions. Hermans is the oldest daughter of former VVD minister and party stalwart Loek Hermans.

Judith Uitermark (NS): home and kingdom affairs
Judith Uitermark was a judge before joining the NSC and being elected to parliament last November and is known to be a big supporter of the use of mediation.

Her role as home affairs minister is crucial to the NSC’s determination to improve the functioning of the government apparatus as part of a push for “good governance”. “The most important thing is that the government stands next to its people once again, and that the government does what is needed,” she said in a recent interview.

Uitermark was also a local councillor in Haarlem for the CDA between 1998 and 2001.

Caspar Veldkamp (NSC): foreign affairs
Veldkamp, 60, is a career diplomat who was ambassador in Israel and Greece and worked in Washington, Warsaw and London. Before winning a seat for the NSC at the last general election, he worked for the European Bank for Reconstruction in London and calls himself a committed European.

He too was a long time member of the CDA before joining the NSC.

Eddy van Hijum (NSC): social affairs and employment
Eddy van Hijum, 52, is one of the four deputy prime ministers and will take charge of the social affairs and employment ministry.

Van Hijum became an MP in 2003 on behalf of the CDA but left in 2015 and became a provincial governor in Overijssel. His experience in the provinces led him to become increasingly critical of national government’s ignorance of regional problems. Van Hijum, who was elected to parliament for the NSC in November, was also Peter Omtzigt’s right-hand man during the cabinet negotiations.

Eppo Bruins (NSC): education, culture and science
Bruins’ decision to join a right-wing cabinet has ruffled feathers at ChristenUnie, given he was an MP for the party from 2025 to 2021. “He is not there on our behalf,” party leader Mirjam Bikker said of the appointment. Ironically, Bruins used to be in the CDA but switched to the CU, partly because of the Christian Democrats’ link up with the PVV in Mark Rutte’s first cabinet.

Bruins, a physicist by profession, is currently chairman of the science, technology and innovation advisory council.

Femke Wiersma (BBB): agriculture, fisheries, food security and nature
Femke Wiersma hit the headlines in 2010 through her participation in popular reality soap Boer zoekt Vrouw (farmer wants a wife) in which she married a dairy farmer. Three children and eight years later, the couple divorced.

Wiersma went on to work for several pro-farming lobby groups, including Team Agro NL and has been a provincial councillor for the BBB since 2023.

Mona Keijzer (BBB): Housing
Mona Keijzer, 55, is the BBB’s choice for deputy prime minister and housing minister – a new department. Keijzer, 55, was junior economic affairs minister from 2017 to 2021 on behalf of the Christian Democrats but was sacked by Mark Rutte for publicly criticising the cabinet’s coronavirus policy.

After failing to win the leadership of the CDA, she appeared to bow out of politics, only to re-emerge as the right-hand woman of BBB founder Caroline van der Plas during the election campaign.

Since the election, she has come under fire for telling a talk show that “the hatred of Jews is almost part of Islamic culture”, a comment she has refused to withdraw.

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