Friday 27 January 2023

ChristenUnie chief Gert-Jan Segers is quitting as MP and party leader

Gert-Jan Segers at a ChristenUnie conference last year. Photo: Ramon van Flymen ANP

Gert-Jan Segers, leader of the minor Christian party ChristenUnie, is stepping down as MP and party leader.

Segers, whose party has five MPs and is junior partner in the current four-party coalition, told CU members in a letter that after 10 years, he had had enough. He will be succeeded by deputy leader Mirjam Bikker.

Segers, 53, said that his time in parliament had been good but that the role of MP is ‘a super heavy job which asks much of your nearest and dearest’. Politics is ‘voracious’, he said. ‘I have given it what I had to give,’ he told MPs.

Segers led the party for seven of his 10 years as MP and was involved in negotiations to form two cabinets. In 2021 he was outspoken in his criticism of VVD leader and prime minister Mark Rutte but joined the negotiations to form a new cabinet nevertheless.

He is also known to have been uneasy about the harder line on refugees drawn up by the cabinet following the housing crisis in Ter Apel.

Rutte said in a reaction that he looked back on their alliance ‘with much warmth’ and said parliament was losing ‘a political anchor’.

Segers’ last day in parliament will be on January 24. He told the NRC in a farewell interview that he does not know what he will do next.

Several MPs, such as Esther Ouwehand from the pro-animal PvdD have recently taken time off or quit, citing the pressure of the job.

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