Mark Rutte

Mark Rutte
Mark Rutte
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Assumed office
14 October 2010
Monarch Beatrix
Deputy Maxime Verhagen
Preceded by Jan Peter Balkenende
Parliamentary leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy in the House of Representatives
In office
29 June 2006 – 14 October 2010
Preceded by Jozias van Aartsen
Succeeded by Stef Blok
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
28 June 2006 – 14 October 2010
State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science
In office
17 June 2004 – 27 June 2006
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende
Preceded by Annette Nijs
Succeeded by Bruno Bruins
State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment
In office
22 July 2002 – 17 June 2004
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende
Preceded by Hans Hoogervorst
Succeeded by Henk van Hoof
Personal details
Born 14 February 1967 (1967-02-14) (age 44)
The Hague, Netherlands
Political party People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
Residence The Hague, Netherlands
Alma mater Leiden University (MA in History)
Occupation Politician
Civil servant
Teacher [1]
Religion Reformed Protestantism
Website Ministry of General Affairs

Mark Rutte (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmɑrk ˈrʏtə]; born 14 February 1967) is a Dutch politician who has been Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 14 October 2010, as well as Minister of General Affairs in the Rutte cabinet. He is the current leader of the Liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

Mark Rutte previously served as State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment from 22 July 2002 to 17 June 2004 in the Cabinets Balkenende I and II. Subsequently he was State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science from 17 June 2004 until his resignation on 27 June 2006, when he was elected to succeed Jozias van Aartsen as the new VVD party leader.[2][3]

At the 2006 general election the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy under Rutte lost six seats and he became opposition leader, serving during the Cabinet Balkenende IV. After the fall of the Cabinet Balkenende IV, a snap election was called, and Rutte was once again the VVD's lijsttrekker (top party list candidate) for the 2010 general election. The VVD won the highest number of votes cast, resulting in their occupying 31 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives. After a long formation period, Rutte became prime minister and formed a cabinet. When he was sworn in on 14 October 2010, he became the first liberal Prime Minister in the Netherlands in 92 years.[4]


Early life

Born in The Hague, Rutte attended a gymnasium high school, specialising in the arts, from 1979 till 1985. Although his original ambition was to attend the conservatory and become a concert pianist,[5] he went to study history at Leiden University, where he obtained a MA degree in History in 1992.[6] He combined his studies with a position in the board of the Youth Organisation Freedom and Democracy, the youth organisation of the VVD, of which he was chairperson between 1988 and 1991.[7]

After his studies he entered the business world, working as a manager for Unilever and Calvé. Until 1997 he was part of the human resource-department of Unilever and played a leading role in several reorganisations. Between 1997 and 2000 he was personnel manager for Van den Bergh Nederland, a subsidiary of Unilever. In 2000 he became member of the Corporate Human Resources Group. And since 2002 he was director of Human Resources for IgloMora Groep, another subsidiary of Unilever.[8]

Between 1993 and 1997 he was a member of the national board of the VVD. He also served as a member of the VVD candidate committee for the general election of 2002. He was himself elected as a member of parliament in 2003.

Political offices

Rutte served as State Secretary in the Social Affairs and Employment from 22 July 2002, until 17 June 2004 in the first Balkenende cabinet, a post in which he was maintained after the general election of 2003. He was responsible for fields including bijstand (municipal welfare) and arbeidsomstandigheden (Occupational safety and health). After the 2003 elections Rutte was briefly member of the House of Representatives, between 30 January and 27 May 2003.

He served as State Secretary for Higher Education and Science, within the Education, Culture and Science, replacing Annette Nijs, from 17 June 2004, until 27 June 2006, in the first and second Balkenende cabinets. In office, Rutte has shown particular interest in making the Dutch higher education system more competitive internationally, by trying to make it more market oriented (improving the position of students as consumers in the market for education). He would have been succeeded by former The Hague alderman Bruno Bruins. Before Bruins could be sworn into office, the second Balkenende cabinet fell. In the third Balkenende cabinet Bruins succeeded Rutte after all, as State Secretary.

When Rutte resigned as State Secretary in June 2006 it was to return to the House of Representatives and to become soon the Parliamentary leader of the VVD. Rutte became an important figure within the VVD leadership. He was campaign manager for the 2006 municipal elections.

In 2009, Rutte stated that Holocaust denial, although it is ridicule as such, should no longer be punishable by law.[9]

2006 leadership election

After the resignation of Jozias van Aartsen, the VVD having lost in the 2006 Dutch municipal election, the party held an internal election for 'lijsttrekker', where Rutte competed against Rita Verdonk and Jelleke Veenendaal. On 31 May 2006, it was announced that Mark Rutte would be the next 'lijsttrekker' of the VVD. He was elected by 51.5% of the party members. Rutte's candidacy was backed by the VVD leadership, including the party board, and many prominent politicians such as Frank de Grave, former minister of Defence, Ivo Opstelten, the mayor of Rotterdam and Ed Nijpels, the Queen's Commissioner of Friesland. The Youth Organisation Freedom and Democracy, the VVD's youth wing, of which he had been chairperson, also backed him. During the elections he promised "to make the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy a party for everyone and not just of the elite". His youthful appearance has been likened to the successful former leader of the Labour Party, Wouter Bos.

Mark Rutte on his first day as Prime Minister of the Netherlands on October 14, 2010
Rutte with the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Nick Clegg on November 15, 2010
Rutte with the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek on November 30, 2010

On accepting the role of candidate-lijsttrekker, Rutte had made it clear that he wished to change the face of the VVD into a party where everyone, not just the "happy few" could feel comfortable. He had also stated that with the current social security ideas of the Dutch Labour Party, which he called too conservative, it was unlikely that they would cooperate or form a coalition after the elections. Later he stated that he felt that the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) party was a party "the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy could do business with".

2006 Dutch general election

For the Dutch general election, 2006, the VVD campaign with Rutte as leader did not get off to a good start. Rutte received criticism from within his own party for the campaign.[10] Rutte was said to be overshadowed by his own party members Rita Verdonk and Gerrit Zalm, as well as being unable to penetrate between Wouter Bos and Jan Peter Balkenende, who were generally seen as the prime candidates to become the next Prime Minister of the Netherlands. On 27 November, it became known that Rita Verdonk managed to obtain more votes than Mark Rutte; Rutte obtained 553,200 votes against Verdonk's 620,555.[10]

Decision to expel Rita Verdonk

After repeated criticisms by Rita Verdonk on the policy of the VVD, Rutte expelled her on 14 September 2007, from the party's parliamentary fraction.[11]

2010 Dutch general election

In the Dutch general election, 2010, Rutte was once again the lijsttrekker for the VVD. With 31 seats, his party came out the biggest in parliament out of these elections, for the first time in the history of Dutch politics.[12] A long period of negotiations followed, with several personalities succeeding each other as informateur, or persons being appointed by the Queen, in order to find out what coalition could be formed.

Efforts to have a coalition of liberals, Christian-democrats and socialists failed. Instead the only possibility appeared to be a center-right coalition of liberals and Christian democrats (CDA), with the outside support of the Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders.

After having succeeded in making this minority government accepted by his own party, by the Christian democrats and by Geert Wilders, Rutte proceeded by appointing the ministers, with Maxime Verhagen (CDA) as his deputy prime minister.

Prime Minister

Rutte pays his respects to the victims of the 2011 Alphen aan den Rijn massacre

On 8 October 2010 he was appointed formateur (charged with forming a new government) and formed his Cabinet. He presented his team to Parliament and it was confirmed in office by the smallest possible majority.

Rutte is the first Prime Minister of the Netherlands not from a Christian democratic party or the Labour Party since 1918 as well as the first liberal to become PM since Pieter Cort van der Linden, who was Prime Minister from 1913 till 1918.[12] He is also the first VVD PM.

Personal life

Mark Rutte is unmarried[13] . He is a member of the Calvinist Reformed Protestant Church in the Netherlands. He still teaches two hours a week at a high school in The Hague.


External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jozias van Aartsen
Party leader
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Jozias van Aartsen
Parliamentary leaderPeople's Party for Freedom and Democracy
House of Representatives

Succeeded by
Stef Blok
Government offices
Preceded by
Hans Hoogervorst
State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment
Succeeded by
Henk van Hoof
Preceded by
Annette Nijs
State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science
Succeeded by
Bruno Bruins
Preceded by
Jan Peter Balkenende
Minister of General Affairs
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Jan Peter Balkenende
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Succeeded by

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