Feedback | Saturday, July 13, 2024

Dick Schoof, the former head of the Dutch Secret Service, was sworn in as the Netherlands’ new Prime Minister on Tuesday, ending a seven-month political impasse following the far-right’s victory in last November’s elections.

He is leading a broad right-wing coalition cabinet promising to implement the country’s “strictest-ever” immigration policy.

King Willem-Alexander officiated the ceremony at the royal Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague, where Schoof and his cabinet ministers took their oaths of office. The 67-year-old independent leader succeeds Mark Rutte, who is set to become NATO’s next secretary-general later this year.

Schoof’sappointment comes after prolonged negotiations between four coalition partners: Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom Party (PVV), the Farmers Party (BBB), the liberal-conservative VVD, and the new anti-corruption party NSC. Wilders, despite his party’s electoral success, stepped back from pursuing the premiership to keep the fragile coalition intact.

The new Prime Minister has pledged to implement the strictest-ever admission policy for asylum and the most comprehensive package for getting a grip on migration. This aligns with the coalition’s right-wing agenda, particularly on immigration issues.

Wilders’ PVV party has secured five out of 15 ministerial posts in the new government, including key portfolios such as trade and migration. This marks a significant shift in Dutch politics, with the far-right gaining unprecedented influence in the traditionally consensus-driven system.

The formation of this government follows Wilders’ surprising victory in November, where his party won 37 of 150 seats in the House of Representatives.

Wilders, who founded his Party for Freedom in 2006, is one of the Netherlands’ best-known politicians and the longest-sitting member of the House of Representatives, where he has served since 1998.

Wilders has said he wants to end immigration from Muslim countries, tax headscarves and ban the Quran. He has even called Moroccan immigrants “scum.”

Meanwhile, Schoof’s predecessor, Mark Rutte, was appointed as the next chief of the transatlantic military alliance NATO last week, a development that comes at a critical time for European security amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Bowing out of Dutch politics after nearly 14 years as PM, Rutte will take over from Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on October 1, NATO said in a statement.

(Inputs from ANI)

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Last Updated: 13th Jul 2024