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Petra de Koning

Mar 17, 2021

Mark Rutte


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If, as expected, he re-emerges as prime minister after the Dutch election on March 17, Mark Rutte is on track to become the Netherlands' longest-serving prime minister. By mid-2022, he will beat the record set by Ruud Lubbers in 1994 and, assuming everything goes according to plan, he will serve until at least 2025.

Yet, despite being a veteran on the European stage, Rutte remains an enigma - even at home. As Petra De Koning discovered from conversations with the prime minister's old friends and associates for this political biography, Rutte has never been in a relationship, cooked a meal or even had a political strategy.

In a European Union without the UK and soon to be without Angela Merkel, Rutte is emerging as the spokesman of the EU’s pragmatic, fiscally conservative, free trading, and Putin-sceptical wing. But who is he? How has he refashioned his liberal party and Dutch politics, and can he reshape Europe?

Petra De Koning is political editor of NRC and the 2020 winner of the Anne Vondeling Prize for political reporting. Formerly a correspondent in Kosovo and Brussels, she returned to The Hague in 2013 to cover domestic politics. In Dutch, she is the author of The Butcher's Daughter (2000) about her experiences in Kosovo, and co-author with Cees Banning of Balkans on the North Sea (2005) about the Yugoslav war tribunal.

*The author's own book recommendation is What's is an Apple? A collection of six conversations between Amos Oz and Shira Hadad (Keter, 2018 - not yet published in English).

Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Global Advisors.

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