Find Us

Incoming Dutch far-right digital minister to prioritise AI

An eclection campaing poster of Geert Wilders' PVV party.
An eclection campaing poster of Geert Wilders' PVV party. Copyright Aleksandar Furtula/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Aleksandar Furtula/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Cynthia Kroet
Published on Updated
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

He told lawmakers at a confirmation hearing that IT is not left-wing or right-wing.


Zsolt Szabó, the candidate for state secretary for digitalisation in the incoming Dutch right-wing government, touted centralised AI as a priority of his mandate during a hearing in national parliament today (20 June).

“AI needs to be centralised, there should not be [conflicting] policy at a local or regional level, the same with cloud,” Szabó said. “We cannot have different policies for each ministry either. The Netherlands started an AI coalition years ago, but those results have not been optimal,” he added.

One of the priorities for first discussions when he starts the job, will be looking at how the government uses AI in critical situations like social security, he said. The previous government collapsed over a scandal in which the tax authority used biased AI systems to decide eligibility for childcare benefits.

“Fundamental rights should never be compromised because of the use of algorithms,” he said. 

Europe's stringent rules to curb high-risk machine learning systems, the AI Act, will enter into force across the 27 member states next month. The law puts restrictions on high-risk AI systems before they enter the market and during their life cycle. 


Szabó, who has Hungarian roots, was nominated by the far-right Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, but today told lawmakers that “IT isn’t left-wing or right-wing”.

“Some issues are political, for example fake news can become a political discussion. But we need to ensure it's kept neutral,” he said. 

Currently vice president at IT company Capgemini, Szabó served in parliament between 2003 and 2006 for the liberal VVD party, for which he acted as spokesperson on Development Aid, IT and Defence.

He will replace outgoing state secretary for digital affairs Alexandra van Huffelen, a member of the liberal D66 party, who attended telecom ministers' meetings in Brussels. Asked by lawmakers about correlation between EU and Dutch policy, Szabó said that he “comes from the corporate world” and is not yet up to speed on the issue. 

Hungarian passport

The incoming administration, set to take office on July 2, will be headed by independent prime minister Dick Schoof, the former head of the Dutch intelligence service. Schoof takes over from liberal Mark Rutte, who led the Netherlands since 2010 and played an influential role in the EU.

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. 

Like Szabó, incoming Economy Minister Dirk Beljaarts – the former head of hospitality industry lobby Koninklijke Horeca Nederland – has a Hungarian mother. Beljaarts, who has also been Honorary Consul to Hungary since 2015, told Dutch media last week that he has renounced his Hungarian passport. 

Szabó said he only has Dutch nationality. Wilders has criticised politicians holding dual nationality in the past.

Subscribe here to stay informed on the latest EU policy development with our newsletter, "The Policy Briefing", your weekly insight on European rulemaking, key events and data trends.

Share this articleComments

You might also like