June 20, 2018

Ruud Lubbers, longest-serving prime minister of The Netherlands, died

Mr. Ruud Lubbers.

By Anton Lutter.

On the 14th of February, aged 78 years the longest serving Dutch Prime Minister died in his hometown Rotterdam, Mr. Ruud Lubbers.

Born in 1939 he served as Prime Minister from 4 November 1982 until 22 August 1994. He was also the youngest person serving in that position, the current Prime Minister Mark Rutte lacking two months.

He studied economy at the Nederlandse Economische Hogeschool (nowadays Erasmus University) in Rotterdam. Before entering politics, he worked at the family business Hollandia a manufacturer of steel constructions and machines.

His political career started in 1973 when he was appointed Minister of Economics for the Catholic People’s Party (KVP) until 1977. After the elections in 1977, he became a member of parliament, where – a year later – he succeeded to Mr. Wim Aantjes as chair of the “CDA” parliamentary group (at the time still formally consisting of separate Catholic and Protestant political parties) until – in 1982 – he became Prime Minister and the political leader of CDA, heading the cabinets Lubbers I, II and III.

After his political career, he part-time served in academe as professor of globalisation at the Katholieke Universiteit Brabant (Catholic University Brabant) and visiting professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Both his interests in the position of chair of the European Commission and secretary-general of NATO failed, and it took until 2001 before he was asked to be United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, retiring in 2005.

He reorganized the agency doing so without pay (he returned his salary). He made a short comeback in Dutch politics in 2006 and 2010 as “informateur” for the formation of two cabinets. The “European” Ruud Lubbers will be much remembered as the host for the Maastricht Treaty which paved the way to the European Union and the common currency the Euro.

Mr. Lubbers is survived by his wife and three children.

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