Now that informer Hamer has offered her final report today, a next phase in the formation is coming, and that will be a stage where VVD coryfee Johan Remkes is almost certainly taking over. His task is to form a coalition of government almost half a year after the election and several failed attempts.
The Groninger seems like a good candidate to get this difficult job done. In recent years, the experienced driver has become the most important political problem solver.
Remkes (70) is someone with a good sense of political relations, explains political reporter Ron Fresen. “He goes quite undisturbed, with punishable hand, his own way, and eventually manages to take others with him.”
What‘s more, Remkes is not a person who has a very strong party colour, and because of that he enjoys the trust of other parties, Fresen knows. “He wrote an important report on the nitrogen crisis, cracking the cabinet’s approach under the direction of a VVD prime minister.” Useful properties for the man who must smooth the jammed formation.
He has been involved in politics for decades. From the late 1970s first in Groningen as a councillor, member of the state and deputy, later as MP, Secretary of State and Minister. In 2010 he was appointed Commissioner of the Queen in North Holland, where he succeeded Harry Borghouts who had resigned due to two scandals.
In the middle of his second term, he put down the position in early 2019 because he wanted more time for his private life. But sitting still isn‘t one of his qualities. When Mayor Krikke resigned in the autumn of that year because of the outof control bonfires and the college had just fallen into a corruption case around two aldermen, he decided to respond to the request for temporary mayor of the Hofstad.
“I have received the deepest message in my education that you have to take responsibility at regular intervals,” he told Omroep West about that. When he was succeeded by Jan van Zanen only nine months later, peace had been restored in The Hague. “The direct way in which he expressed his opinion and criticized if necessary, was well in line with the Hague style and was appreciated by Hagenaars and Hagenese,” said Deputy Mayor Revis at Remkes’ farewell.
The congregation was so grateful to him for his work that he was promptly appointed honorary citizen. “I‘m pretty good,” the otherwise sober Groninger responded. He promised not to sit behind the geraniums, but did say in an interview in Trouw at the end of last year that a new job should be done from Groningen. “At some age, you don’t have to transplant a tree anymore.”
Until he was asked to defend another crisis, this time in Limburg. In April, Minister Ollongren asked him as the king‘s temporary commissioner to work on restoring administrative relations there, after governor and county administration had stepped up by a grant scandal.
Here too, Remkes went to work very much, says political reporter Lars Geerts. “For example, he put together a provincial board himself when the parties failed. He also placed the Dutch flag in front of the county house. It wasn’t there yet, the European and Limburg flags. It signs its independence.”
Thai vacation during disaster
Isn‘t there any scandal to this VVD’er? A little one: his unwrinkletable reputation took a dent in early 2005. When a severe earthquake and tsunami caused massive devastation in countries around the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day 2004, the then Interior Minister was Thailand. A fuss arose in The Hague for not showing his face in the hard-hit Phuket, not far from his holiday address.
On January 5, he did, although he felt that “a loose minister has no added value here”. “If I had the impression that my presence here or in the Netherlands would have been desired, I would have gone. I never had that impression at any point,” he reacted stoically. And with that, the cold was soon out of the air.