Dutch Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius was named the leader of the VVD party on Monday, a position vacated by outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte after the collapse of his government.
(Bloomberg) — Dutch Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius was named the leader of the VVD party on Monday, a position vacated by outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte after the collapse of his government.
Yesilgoz-Zegerius, 46, was seen as the strongest candidate in an uncrowded party leadership race, after Rutte announced he would retire from politics. If elected, she would become the Netherlands’ first female prime minister.
Yesilgoz-Zegerius, the daughter of a Kurdish political refugee from Turkey, arrived in the Netherlands as an asylum seeker when she was a child. As justice minister in Rutte’s fourth cabinet, she played a key role in talks with coalition parties as they tried to reach an agreement over the influx of migrants. Those negotiations weren’t successful, leading to the collapse of the government, as Rutte’s VVD gave an ultimatum to limit the right to family reunification for refugees from war zones.
Read more: Here Are the Main Contenders to Replace Rutte as Dutch Premier
Yesilgoz-Zegerius said she will “now get to work with a lot of energy,” according to a post on social-media platform X on Monday. Elections in the Netherlands are scheduled for Nov. 22.
Rutte’s exit as Netherlands’ longest-serving premier will change the political landscape in the country. Another key party in the caretaker government, the progressive D66, is also replacing its chief with Climate Minister Rob Jetten. In the meantime, the Dutch Green Left and Labor parties have combined their campaigns ahead of the elections.
Along with Yesilgoz-Zegerius, the other potential candidates to replace Rutte include Caroline van der Plas, the leader of the populist Farmer-Citizen Movement, Frans Timmermans, who is running for the leader of the Left alliance, and Pieter Omtzigt, an independent lawmaker.
The center-right VVD party was leading in a July 25 poll conducted by Ipsos/EenVandaag, narrowly beating the merged left parties by one seat.
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