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Wouter Bos Quits Dutch Politics

by Oui Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 06:56:10 AM EST

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Labour leader Bos resigns

BREAKING NEWS: Dutch Labour Party leader, Wouter Bos, is resigning and leaving politics. He says he will not be leading Labour (PvdA) into elections scheduled for 9 June and will no longer be available for any political posts, including being an MP. He has led Labour since 2002.

Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen is widely seen as the most likely candidate to replace Mr Bos as Labour leader.


Recently Mr Bos explained that he had been thinking about giving up politics since 2007. He has been holding talks with Mr Cohen about who should succeed him as Labour leader.

Mr Cohen will officially put himself forward as a candidate during a press conference later today. He has already garnered the support in his leadership bid from the leader of the parliamentary Labour faction, Mariëtte Hamer. She says the Amsterdam mayor is best equipped to build on Labour's improving position in the polls.

Wouter Bos' resignation has come as a major surprise. After Labour's better than expected showing in last week's local elections, it was generally thought that he would carry on to lead the party into the June elections.

June's early poll was forced after the government fell because of disagreement over the extension of the Dutch ISAF mission in Afghanistan.

AD News: Bos Out, A'dam Mayor Cohen likely successor

Time: Portrait Job Cohen, Mayor Amsterdam
Most recent poll: PvdA closes gap with Christian Democrats

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."


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Wouter Bos had a political career that should have culminated into becoming Prime Minister of The Netherlands this coming national election on June 9. He broke with the cabinet and PJ Balkenende over the Uruzgan Mission, it was to be HIS campaign. Bos was minister of Finance during a difficult two years, he was accountable for policy and political choice. Last week he announced he would be party leader and candidate Prime Minister, if and when the Labour party would become the largest party. After the fall of 'Paars II' in 2002, the Labour party sought Job Cohen as candidate Prime Minister to fill the void left by Wim Kok. Labour party leader at the time was a younger Wouter Bos.

Dutch politics was jolted yesterday when a bright young Christian Democrat - Camiel Eurlings (age 36) - announce he would leave politics and raise a family first. Today the man who changed Dutch politics in the '60s and '70s passed away - Hans van Mierlo (78). He won an amazing seven seats in Dutch parliament in 1967 and was called a second Kennedy because of his style and charisma. Video

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

by Oui on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 10:55:32 AM EST
It's sad that Van Mierlo died. Another chapter to his story is his leadership of D66 from the mid-eighties until the late nineties, which culminated in a huge victory for the party in 1994 and the first government not to include a confessional party since the first world war (basically, since universal suffrage).

In the first and second "purple" cabinet D66 managed to pass large parts of its socially liberal agenda, but virtually none of its desired reforms to the political system - which were the main reason for the foundation of the party. The result is that the political system in the Netherlands is still characterised by an oligarchic party rule.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 04:00:25 PM EST
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What was (or is) their agenda when it comes to reforms of the political system?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 13th, 2010 at 05:13:54 AM EST
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As explained here - Ideology and Issues. D'66 wanted the elected mayor, prime minister, referenda and social-liberal reform. Some were successfully implemented during 8 years of Purple Coalition rule.

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

by Oui on Sat Mar 13th, 2010 at 07:16:12 AM EST
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Wouter Bos had initiated talks with Job Cohen early in the year 2007. PvdA had joined the Dutch cabinet with Jan Pieter Balkenende. Wouter Bos has revealed he was aware that he missed the opportunity to be Dutch Prime Minister when in the elections of 2003 and 2006, the Christian Democrats became the largest party. He had made up his mind he could not become party leader for the next election and make a commitment for another eight years in Dutch politics. I do believe him that he wants to be a dad to his young children growing up. He always showed the intention by being a stay-at-home dad, sharing responsibilities for one working day during the week. His decision and timing was motivated by the circumstance of discussion to stay or return from the Uruzgan mission in Afghanistan. The ultimate motivation was party politics to avoid a heavy defeat at the local elections. He succeeded. As for national politics, his responsibility was to set up financial policy during the coming months by cutting deficit and government spending. Labour party never likes to bear this responsibility as we have seen in the '80s until Wim Kok became party leader. Bos failed in his responsibility for the Dutch people by prioritizing party politics.

The national vote is split in half, the socialist or left wing parties do not have a majority. The PvdA can only rule Dutch politics by joining with the centrist Christian Democrats in a new coalition. The election campaign will not be about substance, rather which of the three parties will be the largest and deliver the initiative of coalition talks and the new Prime Minister. The largest parties will pull voters away from all other minority parties. The government decision making process will be on hold for all of this year until a new cabinet is installed. This may be a heavy burden for the PvdA to carry during the worst economic recession for decades. Job Cohen has no record for financial policy, however in a quick poll he was by far favorite by all voters to become the new Prime Minister. Mission accomplished.

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

by Oui on Sat Mar 13th, 2010 at 08:02:11 AM EST
that the cabinet crisis was strategically planned. I think you observed yourself your own amazement that PvdA kept the coalition intact after the damning presentation of the Davids report on Iraq, and blew it up a month later on Uruzgan. PvdA already had superior ammunition to stand firm on the Davids report, and Balkenende's disastrous press interview was like a boon easily to be exploited for a cabinet crisis. PvdA did make use of the political leverage Balkenende presented them, but didn't blow it up to a crisis, something PvdA easily could've done.

I suspect it was simlpy a cummulative build-up, aided by the pressure of regional elections, and Bos drew the line in the sand with Uruzgan.

Possibly his stance was psychologically strengthened by knowing in advance that you've plans to step down and already have a successor arranged.

With Cohen in, the national elections are now quickly becoming reduced to three parties, all striving to become the largest: CDA, PvdA, Wilders. Potentially to the loss of votes for D66, VVD, SP and Green Left.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 10:12:44 AM EST
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