Former GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema is to be the new mayor of Amsterdam, the first female mayor in the city’s history and the first mayor from the left-wing green party.
Halsema, who is 52, led GroenLinks in parliament from 2002 to 2010. She lives in Amsterdam’s eastern district and says the appointment has made her ‘happy, proud and humble.’
‘It is a great privilege to be able to serve my fellow city dwellers in the coming years,’ she said in a post on her own website. ‘I will do everything within my power to be the mayor of all Amsterdammers.’
Halsema’s name began circulating after the March local elections, when GroenLinks emerged as the biggest party in the Dutch capital.
Nevertheless, the process of naming a new mayor following the death of Eberhard van der Laan has taken months, and became mired in controversy after applications were re-opened when officials said not enough suitable candidates had come forward.
The public prosecution department has also opened an inquiry into how information about the mayoral appointment process was leaked to the media.
The Telegraaf and Parool both reported that there was strong opposition within the appointment’s committee to Halsema, partly due to her lack of managerial experience.
Others have criticised her for being ‘cold’ and ‘too politically correct’ and over 7,000 people signed a petition to keep her out of city hall. ‘She will have to prove the opposite but she will of course get plenty of good guidance,’ NOS reporter Edwin van den Berg said.
Since leaving national politics in 2010, Halsema has made a television documentary series, worked as a writer, led several research projects and has chaired a number of charitable foundations.
Halsema’s candidacy will now be put to the king’s commissioner in Noord Holland province, Johan Remkes and she will be formally appointed by the king.
Acting mayor Jozias van Aartsen said it is ‘an extraordinary honour to serve this very special city and its people’.
‘I congratulate former colleague Femke Halsema with the council’s decision and I wish her much wisdom and pleasure in her work.’
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