Names of next cabinet ministers leak, Ernst Kuipers to be Health Minister
It took nine months, but earlier this month the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), D66, Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), and ChristenUnie (CU) announced they’d finally reached a coalition agreement and presented their plan for the next four years.
With the new cabinet set to be sworn in on January 10, the first few names of soon-to-be ministers have started to leak in The Hague - and while the four parties in power are remaining the same, the cabinet is set to see a significant reshuffle in the new year. Here’s what we know so far.
Ernst Kuipers as Dutch Health Minister
It’s a name few were familiar with before the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, but over the past two years Ernst Kuipers has most certainly become a household name in the Netherlands, making regular TV appearances.
As the chairperson of the National Acute Care Network (LNAZ) and of the Executive Board at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, he has been responsible for the distribution of coronavirus patients across Dutch hospitals throughout the pandemic and has spoken out time and time again about the government’s coronavirus policy and vaccination programme.
Before the holidays, it had already basically been confirmed that the current Health Minister, Hugo de Jonge, would not be resuming his role in the new year, and rumours began to circulate that a medical professional would be taking on the position. On Thursday evening, sources in The Hague confirmed to the Dutch press that Kuipers would indeed be sworn in as Health Minister in January, with De Jonge taking on a new position: Minister for Housing and Spatial Planning.
Rutte IV: New names joined by a number of old faces
Kuipers certainly isn’t the only new face in Rutte IV; Robbert Dijkgraaf, a theoretical physicist and string theorist, will be the Minister for Education, Culture and Science on behalf of D66. Rob Jetten - a D66 MP who has become rather famous on social media for his “bromance” with GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver - will take on his first ministerial role and be sworn in as Minister for Climate and Energy.
Franc Weerwind, currently the mayor of Almere, will be named Minister for Legal Protection, on behalf of D66. Conny Helder is another new addition to the cabinet, and will be sworn into office as Minister for Long-Term Care and Sport. Henk Staghouwer, the current deputy for agriculture and nature in Groningen, will be the new Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality on behalf of CU.
In addition to the various new faces, some of the cabinet members will be trading in their current roles for new titles. The current Minister of Agriculture, Carola Schouten, will become the Minister for Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions. Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius will swap her role as State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate for the position of Minister of Justice and Security. While it is not yet certain, some rumours have suggested that CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra will be named Minister of Foreign Affairs.
D66 leader Sigrid Kaag as first female Finance Minister
Sigrid Kaag is making history and will be named the country’s first female Finance Minister. The D66 leader was hugely pleased with her party’s performance in the general election in March, when they claimed 24 seats in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) and matched their best election result from 1994.
The second-largest party in the cabinet supplies the government with a Minister of Finance, with Hoeksta currently filling the position. In recent years, Kaag has filled the position of Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, and was named interim Finance Minister in 2018 following the resignation of Halbe Zijlstra.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed that he was hoping that half of the 20 ministerial positions would be filled by women. With the information that has already been leaked to the press, it’s clear that the majority of VVD ministers will be women; there will be five female ministers and one state secretary, compared to three male ministers and two state secretaries.