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Dutch far right takes migration, trade and economic affairs portfolios

Geert Wilders, the leader of the PVV party, during a meeting of leaders of political parties after the general election in November.
Geert Wilders, the leader of the PVV party, during a meeting of leaders of political parties after the general election in November. Copyright Peter Dejong/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Peter Dejong/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Cynthia Kroet
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Candidate ministers need a formal confirmation by parliament, set for next week.

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Five candidates have been nominated by the far-right Freedom Party of Geert Wilders to become ministers on Asylum and Migration, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Infrastructure, Economic Affairs, and Healthcare in the incoming Dutch government.

The coalition government is dominated by Wilders’ radical right-wing PVV, which is joined by the liberal VVD, conservative NSC, and farmers' party BBB. Elections were held in November last year, in which the PVV almost doubled its seats to 37 of the 150-seat parliament, compared to the previous vote in 2021. 

The incoming administration, set to take office on June 26, will be headed by independent prime minister Dick Schoof, the former head of the Dutch intelligence service. 

Schoof's apparent lack of political experience starkly contrasts with that of his liberal predecessor, Mark Rutte, who has led the Netherlands since 2010 and played an influential role in the EU.

The ministers will need to pass a confirmation hearing in the national parliament next week, portfolios could therefore change. In addition, there will be some 13 state secretaries whose names have not all been confirmed. 

PVV: Hardliners

On Asylum and Migration, the PVV put forward forward Marjolein Faber, after Gidi Markuzower, an Israeli–Dutch politician who has sat in the national parliament since 2017, was first supposed to get the job. Markuzower did not pass the background check carried out by the secret service, Wilders said on X yesterday.  

Reinette Klever will get the Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation portfolio. Klever, a former PVV politician, called in 2016 for the abolition of development aid altogether, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported

The Ministry of Economic Affairs will go to Dirk Beljaarts, a former top lobbyist in the hospitality sector and Honorary Consul to Hungary since 2015, with no apparent political experience.

Barry Madlener, a former member of the European and Dutch Parliament, will take the helm of the Infrastructure ministry. On healthcare Fleur Agema will lead. She has been in the parliament since 2006, always in charge of the healthcare portfolio.

VVD: NATO experience

The liberal VVD has delivered candidates for four ministries: Finance, Justice, Defence and Climate.

Eelco Heinen, a former policy adviser with the finance ministry and VVD campaign director is set to become Finance Minister. On Justice, David van Weel – currently NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Innovation, Hybrid, and Cyber – will take the lead. 

Ruben Brekelmans, a member of parliament since 2021 and a relatively unknown candidate, will lead on Defence. Rutte’s former political adviser Sophie Hermans will become Climate Minister.

Newcomers: Some familiar faces

Newcomer NSC – a party founded in August last year with a conservative agenda — will take on Foreign Affairs with Caspar Veldkamp, a former diplomat who was previously ambassador to Israel and Greece. 

Judith Uitermark (Home Affairs), Eddy van Hijum (Social Affairs) and Eppo Bruins (Education), are also nominated on behalf of NSC.

The farmer party BBB, established in 2019, will be in charge of the Agriculture and Nature Ministry, with Femke Wiersma, a relatively unknown politician, taking the lead. Mona Keijzer, a former state secretary on Economic Affairs on behalf of the Christian-Democrat CSA, will take the Housing portfolio.

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