Dick Schoof: Who is Geert Wilders's choice for Dutch PM?

Schoof, who says he is surprised by the appointment, is announced six months after elections

Former Dutch intelligence chief Dick Schoof is presented as the proposed prime minister of the Netherlands on Tuesday. Reuters
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Dutch right-wing coalition parties on Tuesday nominated former security chief Dick Schoof as their preferred candidate to become the Netherlands' next prime minister.

Mr Schoof, 67, is the top official at the Justice Ministry and a former head of the Dutch intelligence and immigration services.

After nearly six months of debate in the coalition, he will succeed departing premier Mark Rutte, the country’s longest-serving prime minister.

Mr Schoof said he had been asked by the four parties that will form the new government to lead it.

The four right-wing coalition partners have 88 seats in the 150-member lower house of Parliament.

This includes Geert Wilders's Freedom Party, Mr Rutte's Liberal Party for Freedom and Democracy, newcomer the New Social Contract party, and the agriculture-friendly Citizen-Farmer Movement.

Mr Wilders gave up his ambition to lead the EU's fifth-largest economy amid widespread unease over his anti-Islamic, anti-European views.

Mr Schoof will lead a cabinet that the four parties have said would have looser ties to Parliament.

The coalition decided that the cabinet will be split in half between politicians and outside experts to implement the Netherlands' "toughest" immigration policy ever.

"On the recommendation of, and with the support of the parliamentary coalition leaders … I have found Mr Dick Schoof willing to be available as the intended prime minister," said Richard van Zwol, the official responsible for leading talks to form a new Dutch government.

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While Mr Schoof is a seasoned government official, he is not a politician. He has years of experience on topics important to the new government: migration and security.

Having worked mostly on domestic policies, the divorced father of two does not have a high international profile.

Mr Schoof told a media conference that he intended to "decisively" carry out the policies that were decided on two weeks ago by the coalition partners in a draft government agreement.

"This means getting a grip on migration and asylum, giving people including farmers security of living, and looking at international safety," he said.

"That's why I am here. I want to be the Prime Minister of all Dutch people. I am party-less."

Mr Schoof said he has worked closely with Mr Rutte, who has become an “inspiration".

But “I will do it my way", he said.

Mr Schoof “has a great track record, is non-partisan and is therefore above the parties", Mr Wilders said in a post on X on Tuesday.

"He has integrity and is also very sympathetic".

Mr Schoof was a member of Labour but has not been affiliated with any political party since January 1, 2021.

The policy blueprint underscores the most hard-right shift for the country in decades, as migration tops voters’ concerns in Europe.

Nationalist and far-right parties have moved into positions of power throughout the EU, including in Italy and Sweden.

Updated: May 29, 2024, 12:30 PM