Fifty-year-old Mark Rutte leads the Dutch People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. He has been prime minister of Netherlands since October 2010.
During the 2010 legislative elections Mark Rutte campaigned at a time when the economy of the country was dominated by the effects of fiscal austerity.
Back then, he was open to forming a coalition with the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders.
“We do not rule out any party, not even … no party at all. At the same time there are huge differences between my party and the Labour Party and the Freedom Party.’‘
Rutte’s party won the largest number of seats in the 2010 election and became the Netherlands first liberal leader of since 1918.
The People’s Party won just one seat more than the social-democratic Labour Party. In order to lead the country, Rutte’s first government needed parliamentary support from Labour, and Geert Wilders’s anti-Islam, anti-EU Party for Freedom, which came in third.
Rutte and Wilders didn’t see eye to eye on many issues. Wilders withdrew his support for Rutte’s budget cuts and fresh elections were called.
Mark Rutte’s People’s Party won the highly contested vote. After a long night of celebrating, Prime Minister Mark Rutte geared up for difficult negotiations with future coalition partners.
Rutte, who claimed to be the status quo candidate, had pledged in mid-January not to form a coalition with anti-Islamist MP Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party.
Wilders pointed out Rutte’s string of broken promises, such as a thousand-euro tax refund for each taxpayer, and his pledge to give no more money to Greece.
Mark Rutte remains committed to the European Union, presenting himself as the only serious alternative to Geert Wilders.