Dutch Name First Female Finance Minister as Rutte Stays Premier
(Bloomberg) -- Sigrid Kaag, who has advocated closer ties with France and Germany, will be the first female finance minister of the Netherlands, potentially signaling a shift away from its traditionally hawkish stance on European budgets.
Mark Rutte will remain prime minister, leading his fourth government, after the longest negotiations on government formation in the country’s history. Key posts including defense, foreign affairs and finance will be held by his coalition partners.
Kaag’s party has supported the idea of euro countries jointly issuing bonds, something that would mark a significant shift in the Dutch position should it become government policy. The Netherlands historically operates at the hawkish spectrum of the European Union, with Rutte leading the resistance to the pandemic recovery fund in 2020.
“There will be a different tone and a more open attitude” on EU relations, Kaag told Bloomberg last month after the coalition deal was announced. Tackling the pandemic or other crises in the future will require “European striking power,” she said.
Kaag’s appointment brings the number of female finance ministers in the European Union to five. A career diplomat by occupation, she resigned as the foreign minister last year after the Dutch parliament condemned her handling of the Afghanistan evacuation crisis.
The parliament’s motion of disapproval said Kaag’s ministry didn’t act with sufficient urgency, endangering Dutch and Afghan workers, as many interpreters were stuck in the country after the U.S. withdrawal. Kaag started her career at Royal Dutch Shell and has lived and worked in Beirut, Vienna, and Khartoum as part of her time in the diplomatic service.
Rutte’s new administration has 20 ministers — eight from the premier’s party, six from the progressive centrist D66, four from the Christian Democrats, or CDA, and the remaining two from the Christian Union. 10 are women.
Other key members of the new cabinet include:
- CDA’s Wopke Hoekstra, who is the current finance minister, is named the minister of foreign affairs
- D66’s Kajsa Ollongren will be defense minister
- Micky Adriaansens of Rutte’s VVD party, is the incoming minister for economic affairs and climate
- D66’s Rob Jetten to take the newly established role of minister of climate and energy
The official announcement on the ministerial roles of the euro area’s fifth biggest economy was published Sunday on the government’s website. Kaag, Hoekstra and Carola Schouten of Christian Union will serve as deputy prime ministers, according to the statement. King Willem-Alexander is expected to formally swear in the government on Jan. 10, when the parliamentary recess ends.
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