The Netherlands are having general elections at the end of the month and with approximately only half a year before the European elections, there is one key problem for the Dutch governing party VVD: with Mark Rutte having stepped down as Prime Minister, his party is losing not only its long-standing leader, but also one of Europe’s biggest political chameleons.
Rutte has been the center of gravity inside the VVD for a very long time and with his political wit, he managed to evade the most scandalous situations, like the one where the Dutch government had to step down after thousands of families were wrongly accused of child welfare fraud and told to pay money back. Back then, Rutte eventually returned for another stint as head of government. During his current tenure it was found out that he had been deleting text messages off his phone for years, in violation of the related archival law.
Did not really matter, Rutte managed to remain impervious to the fire of political blame. Although it should be added that ministers around him had to step down with a frequency bigger than usual.
At the end, the problem that is eating away the credibility and prestige of more and more European leaders, got to him: he realized that his government could not handle migration and all its social and political consequences and handed in his resignation in July.
Ever since then, Rutte has been head of an executive government and has made rather conspicuous decisions concerning Dutch support for Ukraine in the war waged against Russia. It did not take long and he found himself amid rumors that he might be able to become successor to Jens Stoltenberg as NATO Secretary General. He never denied having such ambitions.
So Rutte, as always, might be reversing gravity by going from failed prime minister to international leader. But the VVD? That is going to be a tough one.
The VVD in the past couple of years has been forced behind Rutte’s one-man show and barely any other politicians managed to garner recognition. In the meantime, many concessions were given to coalition partners, like the D66, only adding to the list of doubts surrounding the party’s real potential.
Maybe it is high time for a new political side to ascend to government and work as a real team. It would only benefit the Netherlands.
And Rutte will get what he supposedly wants: glamour, importance and an untouchable nature as a civilian atop a military-driven organization. Does not even have to break a sweat.