‘Teflon’ Mark Rutte is longest-serving Dutch prime minister

Aug 1, 2022, 12:52 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 3:03 am
FILE - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte points when joking with the media while waiting for the arri...

FILE - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte points when joking with the media while waiting for the arrival of India's President Ram Nath Kovind in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, April 6, 2022. Mark Rutte became the longest-serving Dutch prime minister Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022 and the leader known by some as “Teflon Mark” because scandals don't stick to him is showing no sign of slowing despite unrest gripping his nation and his party's popularity sliding in polls. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Mark Rutte became the longest-serving Dutch prime minister Tuesday, and the leader known by some as “Teflon Mark” because scandals don’t stick to him is showing no sign of slowing despite unrest gripping his nation and his party’s popularity sliding in polls.

Rutte has been in charge for 4,311 days, or almost 12 years, since he first became prime minister in October 2010.

“It’s the greatest job in the world, an unbelievable honor. I must say that there are now a large number of puzzles on my desk, but these things happen,” Rutte said late last month as Dutch politics entered its summer recess.

Foremost of those puzzles is the government’s goal of slashing nitrogen pollution that has sparked angry protests by farmers who have caused traffic chaos in recent weeks by blocking roads and highways with tractors, dumping waste including manure and asbestos on roads and torching hay bales.

Rutte, 55, leader of the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, and head of a four-party ruling coalition, said he had no plans to celebrate becoming the longest-serving prime minister, which he called “a footnote,” and said he would not be in the country on the day. While his party has been declining in recent polls, it remains the largest in the splintered Dutch political landscape.

That fragmentation helped Rutte rise to power and is part of the reason he has remained in office for so long — he is now leading his fourth coalition government — said political scientist André Krouwel of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

He said Rutte won a power struggle within his own party at a time when traditional forces in Dutch politics — Christian Democrats and Social Democrats — were in decline and have stayed that way.

“Basically he became prime minister by default because of the failure of others not because of his own achievements — just because the other ones collapsed more than the VVD did,” Krouwel said in a telephone interview.

That has helped Rutte retain Dutch politics’ top job despite damaging crises over the dozen years he has been in office, particularly a scandal involving thousands of young families being plunged into debt and despair after being wrongfully accused of child benefit fraud. Rutte’s third coalition resigned because of the scandal. But he bounced back to lead the VVD to victory in a general election weeks later in March 2021.

He is seen in some quarters as too slick and has been accused in parliament of lying to lawmakers, but at the same time he’s seen as an efficient leader who can make things happen, Krouwel said.

“These two elements … — and I think they’re both true — make him, I think, a difficult player to beat,” he said.

Now he has eclipsed the previous longevity record of 4,310 days in office set by Ruud Lubbers, a Christian Democrat who led the Netherlands from Nov. 4, 1982, until Aug. 22, 1994. Rutte is the second longest-serving elected leader in the 27-nation European Union, trailing only Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

Rutte has co-opted parties from across the political spectrum in his four coalitions that range from a minority coalition that was propped up by support from anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders that took office Oct. 14, 2010, to his current four-party administration.

As one of the EU’s longest-serving leaders, Rutte is seen as a behind-the-scenes mediator at leaders’ summits in Brussels, but also has long had a more tense relationship with leaders in southern and eastern Europe who see him as figurehead of a group of “frugal” nations that insist on tight budgetary rules.

Rutte has faced plenty of crises during his time in charge, ranging from the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine that killed all 298 people on board — many of them Dutch nationals — to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And he isn’t ready to stop just yet.

“For me, the decisive factor is: Do I have the ideas, the energy? Is my mouth watering on Friday morning when the Cabinet meeting starts to begin solving problems? As long as I have that, I would like to continue,” he said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Scott Crow, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, speaks during a news confere...
Associated Press

Oklahoma prisons director who oversaw executions retiring

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow, who helped oversee the state’s return to carrying out the death penalty after a nearly seven-year hiatus, announced Monday he’s stepping down. In a statement announcing his resignation, Crow did not cite a reason for stepping down, but called it “one of the most […]
16 hours ago
Yaser Said, 65, right, accused of killing his two teen daughters on New Year's Day 2008, takes the ...
Associated Press

Man on trial in Texas says he did not kill 2 teen daughters

DALLAS (AP) — A man accused of fatally shooting his two teenage daughters in a taxi in the Dallas area in 2008 told jurors in his capital murder trial on Monday that he fled the vehicle before they were killed because he thought someone wanted to kill him. “Definitely not, I did not kill my […]
16 hours ago
The shoulder patch of a Mississippi Highway Patrol officer is photographed during a ceremony in Jac...
Associated Press

Viral video of Mississippi arrest sparks investigation

JACKSON, Miss (AP) — An incident involving a white Mississippi Highway Patrol officer and three Black men is under investigation after a viral video showed the officer putting a handcuffed man into a chokehold and wrestling him into a ditch. The video, captured Friday in McComb by a man named Packer Lewis, sparked outrage over […]
16 hours ago
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams speaks during a news c...
Associated Press

Cambodian ambassador: Looted artworks are ‘souls’ of culture

NEW YORK (AP) — Cambodia’s ambassador to the United States said Monday that the transfer of 30 antiquities by U.S. law enforcement authorities to his country was a return of the “souls of our culture.” Ambassador Keo Chhea spoke at a ceremony where a 10th Century sculpture, “Skanda on a Peacock,” was among several works […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Nebraska won’t hold special legislative session on abortion

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Monday that he will not call a special legislative session to try to enact a 12-week abortion ban because the measure doesn’t have enough votes to break a filibuster. Ricketts — a Republican who has said he wants to ban all abortions, even in cases of […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, of West Springfield, Mass., center right, charged with negligent homic...
Associated Press

Testimony ends in deadly motorcycle crash trial

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A 2019 collision that killed seven members of a Marine motorcycle club would’ve happened even if the truck was in the middle of its lane because the lead biker was “headed in that direction,” a crash reconstruction expert said Monday on the final day of testimony in the truck driver’s trial. […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
‘Teflon’ Mark Rutte is longest-serving Dutch prime minister