Netherlands’ New Government Sworn In
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
THE HAGUE (Worthy News) – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte began his fourth term in office Monday despite mounting protests against his strict COVID measures.
Rutte, 54, also faces policy challenges ranging from what his government views as dangerous climate change to housing shortages, migration, and the future of Dutch agriculture.
King Willem-Alexander formally swore in the new government at a socially-distanced ceremony in the ballroom of the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague.
The Netherlands’ new finance minister Sigrid Kaag missed the ceremonial inauguration saying she tested positive for the coronavirus.
Monday‘s ceremony happened 10 months after the elections, following the most prolonged cabinet negotiations in Dutch history.
Ironically Rutte will lead a coalition of the same four parties that ended his third term.
Rutte’s conservative-liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy — together with the centrist, pro-European D66, the center-right Christian Democratic Appeal, and centrist Christian Union — hold a narrow majority in the 150-seat Dutch parliament.
Rutte, who took office in 2010, is the longest-serving government leader in the European Union and Hungary’s rightwing nationalist Viktor Orbán.
The liberal leader is also due to become the longest-serving prime minister in Dutch history, as he is set to surpass Ruud Lubbers by August next year.
His new coalition — dubbed “Rutte IV” — faces an upsurge in coronavirus infections and will also be tasked with setting policy housing shortages and the future of agriculture.
The new government also plans to cut taxes, offer almost free childcare for working parents, bring back grants for higher education students, and build about 100,000 new homes each year.
Plans were also announced to build two nuclear power plants and plans to spend 35 billion euro ($39.7 billion) over 10 years on “climate change,” despite criticism about the price tag.
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