Rutte becomes longest-sitting Prime Minister in history of the Netherlands
It’s official: as of Tuesday, August 2, Mark Rutte is the longest-serving Prime Minister in the history of the Netherlands, beating the record of 4.310 days set by Ruud Lubbers in the 1990s.
Rutte survives over 11 years and nine months as PM
Having held the position of Prime Minister for an impressive 4.311 days - 11 years, nine months, and about three weeks - Mark Rutte has become the Netherlands’ longest-sitting Prime Minister ever. As leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), Rutte has won four elections since 2010.
Rutte has been active in national politics since 2002. Prior to his role as Prime Minister, he served in the Dutch government as State Secretary for Social Affairs and State Secretary for Education, Culture, and Science.
While this undoubtedly marks a significant milestone in Rutte’s career, when asked at a press conference earlier this summer whether the achievement meant anything to him, the Prime Minister answered with a decisive no: “It means…I am a footnote in history.” As for the future of his career, after winning the 2021 election Rutte said he “had the energy for another 10 years.”
The four cabinets of Mark Rutte
With VVD as the largest party in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), Rutte has been at the head of four different coalitions, working with various parties across the political spectrum. His first cabinet lasted only two years, falling after Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), withdrew his support in 2012.
In spite of this apparent failure, Rutte’s party went on to win a whopping 41 seats in the 2012 elections, meaning only the Labour Party (PvdA) with their 38 seats were needed as allies to make up a majority. Ultimately, this coalition lasted 60 months, making it the longest-serving cabinet since the war.
How has "Teflon Mark" stayed in power so long?
Known in the international press as "Teflon Mark", Rutte has developed a reputation for managing to survive various scandals and votes of no confidence. So far, two of his three cabinets have failed to make it to the finish line, after Wilders withdrew support in 2012 and Rutte was forced to resign last year in the wake of the child benefit scandal.
He has also faced a number of crises and conflicts over the years, most notably the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the MH17 incident, the coronavirus pandemic, and most recently the ongoing war in Ukraine.
So, what’s the secret to Rutte’s success? Not only does his “down to earth” and “what you see is what you get” public persona appeal to voters, but political experts also note that he continues to face little opposition from left-leaning parties. Furthermore, as political commentator Frits Wester explained to RTL Nieuws, he’s “always prepared to make compromises with other parties.”
Thumb: oliverdelahaye via Shutterstock.