Rutte Seeks New Term as Head of Netherlands’ Liberal Party

  • Parliamentary elections scheduled to hold March 15, 2017
  • Rival candidate for Freedom Party leading in the polls

The Netherlands’ Liberal Party board chose Prime Minister Mark Rutte as its candidate for a new term in office, marking the fourth time he’ll lead the party in elections for parliament.

“The board is happy this once-in-a lifetime-politician is prepared to lead the Liberal Party into the elections for another time,” according to a statement on the party’s website Friday. 

Rutte will lead the Liberals in lower house elections on March 15, 2017. Other candidates have until Oct. 1 to indicate their interest, Bas Erlings, a spokesman for the party said by phone.

If Rutte’s cabinet, which consists of Liberal and Labor, serves out the four-year term, it would be the first since Labor leader Wim Kok’s first government was formed in 1994. Rutte’s first cabinet, a minority coalition with the Christian Democrats with support from the Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party, collapsed after two years in 2012.

Rutte’s main competitor will be Wilders, who is leading in the polls. If elections were held today, Wilders’ populist Freedom Party would get 27 out of the 150 seats in lower house of parliament, according to an Aug. 5 IPSOS survey. Rutte’s Liberal party would get 25 seats compared with the 41 seats it won in the 2012 elections. Labor would get 13 seats against the 38 it won then.

“Mark Rutte has proved during the difficult time behind us that he was able to accomplish a lot for the Netherlands. He is very motivated to bring our country, based on what has  already been done, forward. So the Netherlands will be an even become a more beautiful  country than it already is,” Henry Keizer, chairman for the Liberal Party, said in the  statement.

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