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Mark Rutte becomes Netherlands’ longest-serving prime minister

Mark Rutte was the longest-serving prime minster in Dutch history on Tuesday (2 Aug). This is a testimony to his energy and political survival skills that he has developed over 12 years.

Rutte said, “I feel like i’m getting to halfway point,” during his July 15 news conference before he left for summer vacation.

Rutte is a 55-year-old veteran European conservative who has seen more than a dozen domestic crises. Many Dutch voters are tired of Rutte’s leadership, but there is no alternative.

Mariken van den Velden, assistant professor in political communication at Amsterdam’s Free University, said that “it’s been something after thing after another and people are upset.”


Recent problems include Rutte’s scandal over childcare subsidies, which brought down Rutte’s previous government. In this incident, he claimed that he had “no active memories” of any earlier statements and acknowledged that he erased text messages from his phone.

He celebrated his 4,310th day of office on Tuesday. This is a day more than Ruud Lubbers, who was premier during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Rutte was the founder of his first coalition in 2010, and his fourth in October 2010. This was after an election widely viewed as a referendum on how he handled the coronavirus pandemic.


Van der Velden stated that Rutte is a natural leader who can get through tough times. The key strategies are to play for time, let others take the blame and wait for popular opinion before backing them.

She claimed that Rutte had beaten off far-right rivals, including anti-Islam lawmaker Geert wilders. Rutte adopted some of their positions using less inflamatory language to corner a “acceptably populist niche”.

Rutte has weak support from outside his party, with 82% of respondents agreeing that he is “past its expiration date” according to an opinion poll conducted by EenVandaag last Wednesday.

After more than a decade of office, less than 25% stated that he was ready to tackle the major issues facing the country, such as the energy and housing crises.

Rutte’s spokesperson said that he wasn’t expected to make any statements to celebrate the milestone. Rutte briefly interrupted his vacation last week to send a tweet in rebuke of farmers who have littered the roads as part of ongoing protests against environmental policy.

Only Viktor Orban, the current Hungarian national leader, has served more time in office than any other.

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