It’s come as something of a surprise that Mark Rutte, the 43-year-old leader of the right-wing Liberals (VVD), now stands on the threshold of the ‘torentje’, the room in the parliament building in The Hague reserved for the Dutch prime minister.
To the country at large, his election in 2006 as party leader was also a surprise, particularly as he was up against the popular but controversial Rita Verdonk.
In the end, he took 51.5% of the party vote but the VVD then lost six seats (from 28 down to 22) at that year’s general election, in which Verdonk attracted more personal votes than the new party leader.
Rutte became embroiled in arguments with Verdonk, whom he finally managed to expell from the party in September 2007. He then wrote a new manifesto in 2008, declaring the VVD wanted a small, compact state where everyone, not just the happy few, would feel comfortable.
Politician of the Year
A series of tactical mistakes led to an historic loss at the May 2009 general election – down to 12 seats. But by the end of that year, Rutte was voted Politican of the Year by his parliamentary colleagues.
Rutte was born in The Hague and attended Leiden University where he studied history. He then entered the business world, working for Unilever and Calvé.
His joined the VVD as a student and was a member of the party’s national board between 1993 and 1997. In 2002 he was appointed junior minister for social affairs and employment in the first Balkenende-led cabinet. By 2004 he had moved to higher education and science.
Rutte still lives in The Hague and likes to keep his private life private. It is known that he is a bachelor who holidays with his mother in the town of Putten in Gelderland.
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl
The DutchNews.nl team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments.
DutchNews.nl has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.