With labour winning the Dutch elections, party leader Diederik Samsom, age 41, will now lead the country. He has been an MP for ten years.
A majority of the PvdA labour party members chose him, the environmental spokesman, as its head in March.
Samsom’s popularity only pulled him ahead of his socialist rival for the prime minister’s job a couple of weeks ago.
Style and other personal adjustments influenced that; one academic source said Samsom’s former aggressive, domineering and impatient persona completely changed.
The son of a doctor and a physiotherapist, Samsom has a degree in applied physics.
Before he got into politics he was a volunteer member of eco-NGO Greenpeace. He says his work in campaigns and projects got him arrested ten times – but never charged.
His two daughters – one of them handicapped – and his wife appeared with him in campaign spots for this election, showing their non-religious, vegetarian and smoke-free home.
Former colleagues say the 1986 Chernobyl disaster had a lasting impact on Samsom, and that he entered politics to “make the world a better place.”
He was already the Netherlands’ unofficial king of quiz shows when he adapted his debating skills for the political race. According to Dutch media, he has an IQ of 136.
Then he was voted the winner of multiple live-on-screen verbal duels with the other candidates.
He said: “I learned that when you want to really change something, you have to work through democracy, from politics.”
That scored points coming from a former green energy trader and eco-warrior, and so did his call for growth stimulus rather than “cold austerity” measures to pull out of the economic crisis.
In these elections Europe figured prominently for the first time in the Netherlands, the euro zone’s fifth-largest economy. Incumbent prime minister Mark Rutte backed the strict German approach, but Samsom did not.
He said: “The austerity policy from the last two years didn’t work. We need growth in Europe and therefore we need a stronger euro.”
Samsom kept up the momentum in the Labour campaign, to clinch the advantage over Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal Party. The two will have to work closely in building a coalition.