Mark Rutte’s early ambition was to become a concert pianist, instead he orchestrated his political party to the summit of power in the Netherlands.
The dashing unmarried 45-year-old had been involved in Dutch politics since the early 1990s before becoming a member of Parliament for the Liberal Party, the VVD in 2003 and its leader three years later.
His first electoral campaign was criticised from within his party but four years later in the general election of 2010 the VVD won 31 seats to become the largest party in the House of Representatives for the first time.
Mark Rutte was asked to form a government by Queen Beatrix. He was the first Liberal Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 1918. The party’s majority was slim in the election just one ahead of the opposition left so he turned to Geert Wilders Party for Freedom for support.
There was common political ground on a policy of strict immigration but progress hit the buffers when it came to Europe. Mark Rutte is pro- European to him it is inconceivable that his country’s future could be outside the EU’s political boundaries.
The falling out came over reducing the public deficit, to three percent, which would have cut 16 billion Euros of spending and met EU budget targets. Wilders is anti-European and despite all the negotiations over several months the two failed to reach any form of political compromise. Wilders and his party withdrew their support and the alliance failed. Ruttte’s government had lasted for 558 days, making it one of the shortest lasting Netherlands cabinets since World War II
Leading up to this poll for the first time attention was focussed on the economy and EU policies.
The Netherlands has been in recession since July 2011 and has since become one of the eurozone’s worst performers expected to shrink 0.9 percent his year. Mark Rutte’s in-tray will be bulging.