Former PvdA politician Ed van Thijn died at the age of 87 in his hometown of Amsterdam, the city of which he has been mayor for years. The municipality of Amsterdam announced that at the request of his wife and daughters. They say that Van Thijn was involved, clear and witty to the end.
The former politician had been ill for quite some time: he suffered from the rare disease polyneuropathy which caused him to be partially paralyzed.
Van Thijn was the second man of the PvdA for more than ten years, behind Joop den Uyl, with whom he worked closely. At the time of the Den Uyl cabinet in the 1970s, he was the chairman of the party in the House of Representatives.
He was also active in local politics. For almost the entire 60‘s, Van Thijn was in the city council of Amsterdam. From 1983 to 1994, he was mayor of the capital. This makes him the longest-serving mayor of Amsterdam since the Second World War.
Van Thijn’s Night
Before and after his mayorship, Van Thijn was Minister of the Interior for a short time. In recent years of his political career, he was in the Senate for the PvdA. There he brought down D66 leader and minister Thom de Graaf in 2005, in the so-called Nacht van Thijn, by voting out a constitutional amendment that would make the elected mayor possible.
Van Thijn wrote a large number of books. His first book, a diary about the cabinet formation of 1977 in which he sat at the table as a co-negotiator, became a bestseller. That formation lasted 208 days, then a record. Eventually, the formation attempt failed and the PvdA ended up in the opposition, although the Social Democrats had made the best election results in their history.
Watch a video with a look back at Van Thijn‘s life below:
Most of Van Thijn’s books are about politics, but he also wrote about the war years, which he survived as a Jewish boy at eighteen places of hiding. He and his parents survived World War II, but the war lingered over the family like a shadow.
“He breathed the city”
Amsterdam mayor Halsema says in a response to Van Thijn‘s death that Amsterdam is taking a deep bow. “Ed van Thijn breathed the city. Intimately loved by countless people who have known him. Because of his readiness, charm and his deeply felt desire to do the right thing.”
According to Halsema, Van Thijn, as a representative of the people, was a fervent debater and, as a director, was standing in front of “He left our city safer and more livable. We are still reaping the benefits of his commitment to entrepreneurs and Amsterdam’s reputation in the world.”
Halsema says he has a deep admiration for Van Thijn. “He has led Amsterdam through turbulent periods, from squatter riots to the Bijlmer disaster. Justice and the rule of law were always his guide.”
The municipality of Amsterdam plans to open a condolence register.