Wim Kok

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His Excellency
Wim Kok
Wim Kok 1994.jpg
Wim Kok in 1994
48th Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
August 22, 1994 – July 22, 2002
Monarch Beatrix
Deputy
Preceded by Ruud Lubbers
Succeeded by Jan Peter Balkenende
Party Leader of the Labour Party
In office
July 21, 1986 – December 15, 2001
Preceded by Joop den Uyl
Succeeded by Ad Melkert
Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives
In office
May 7, 1998 – August 14, 1998
Preceded by Jacques Wallage
Succeeded by Jacques Wallage
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
May 19, 1998 – August 22, 1998
Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives
In office
May 4, 1994 – August 22, 1994
Preceded by Thijs Wöltgens
Succeeded by Jacques Wallage
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
May 17, 1994 – August 22, 1994
Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
November 7, 1989 – August 22, 1994
Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers
Preceded by Rudolf de Korte
Succeeded by Hans Dijkstal
Hans van Mierlo
Minister of Finance
In office
November 7, 1989 – August 22, 1994
Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers
Preceded by Onno Ruding
Succeeded by Gerrit Zalm
Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives
In office
July 21, 1986 – November 5, 1989
Preceded by Joop den Uyl
Succeeded by Thijs Wöltgens
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
June 3, 1986 – November 6, 1989
Personal details
Born Willem Kok, Jr.
(1938-09-29) September 29, 1938 (age 75)
Bergambacht, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s) Rita Roukema (m. 1965)
Children André (born 1962)
Carla
Marcel
Residence Amsterdam, Netherlands
Alma mater Nyenrode Business Universiteit (Honorary degree)
University of Münster (Honorary degree)
Occupation Politician
Trade Union Leader
Corporate director
Lobbyist
Religion None
Signature

Willem "Wim" Kok, Jr. (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋɪm ˈkɔk] ( )) (born September 29, 1938) is a retired Dutch politician of the Labour Party (PvdA). He served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from August 22, 1994 until July 22, 2002.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Wim Kok as Trade Union Leader in 1972.
Wim Kok and President of Russia Vladimir Putin in 2001.

Willem Kok, Jr. was born on September 29, 1938, in Bergambacht in the Netherlands Province of South Holland, the son of Willem Kok, Sr. (born March 29, 1910 in Bergambacht) a carpenter and Neeltje de Jager (born October 17, 1913 in Lekkerkerk). He has one younger brother born in 1945.

Union career[edit]

After completing his studies in business at the Nyenrode Business Universiteit, he started his career in 1961 at the socialist Netherlands Association of Trade Unions (NVV), where he was chairman from 1973 until 1982. In 1982, the NVV merged with Nederlands Katholiek Vakverbond (NKV), the Catholic trade union, to form the Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging (FNV), of which he served as chair until 1986. Then he left the union to enter politics.

Political career[edit]

Parliamentary leader and Minister of Finance[edit]

Kok was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives on June 3, 1986, after the Dutch general election of 1986. Soon after the election Joop den Uyl the Party leader of the Labour Party and Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives announced that he was stepping down after serving twenty years as Party leader of the Labour Party. Kok was elected to succeed him and became Party leader of the Labour Party and the Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives on July 21, 1986 and served as Opposition leader during the parliamentary period of the Cabinet Lubbers II. For the Dutch general election of 1989 Kok became the top candidate and the Labour Party lost three seats but the following cabinet formation resulted in a coalition agreement with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) which formed the Cabinet Lubbers III, Kok became Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of Finance, serving from November 7, 1989, until August 22, 1994.

Prime Minister[edit]

For the Dutch general election of 1994, Kok again as top candidate lost twelve seats but the Christian Democratic Appeal with new Party Leader Elco Brinkman lost twenty seats. The Labour Party became the largest party in the House of Representatives, after an arduous cabinet formation with the conservative liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the social liberal Democrats 66 (D66) a deal was struck that resulted in the Cabinet Kok I, with Kok as Prime Minister. It was considered groundbreaking in Dutch politics this was the first Cabinet of the Netherlands since 1908 without a Christian democratic party.

The main aim of the Cabinet Kok I was to create employment. The Dutch economy had been in a deep recession for years. The market should get more influence in the economy. This let to a policy of tax reduction, economizing, and trying to keep people out of the social care by supporting employment; large infrastructural projects were set in motion. Another aim was to make an end to the enormous debt of the Dutch government. The Treaty of Amsterdam was signed during this cabinet. The Srebrenica massacre occurred under the responsibility of this government, which eventually would lead to the fall of the second Kok cabinet. Until today, this was the last Dutch cabinet in recent history to serve a full term.

With the following Dutch general election of 1998, Kok again as top candidate won eight seats and the coalition retained its majority and a cabinet formation resulted in a continuation of the policies with a Cabinet Kok II.

Kok remained as Prime Minister of the Netherlands until the Cabinet Balkenende I was installed on July 22, 2002. The second cabinet was the successor of the first cabinet was formed from the same coalition of PvdA, VVD and D66. It was also known as the "second purple cabinet" called such because it contained both the social-democratic PvdA (red) and the liberal VVD (blue). The aim of the cabinet was to continue the policy of cabinet Kok I, which was concerned with economizing, tax reduction, and making an end to unemployment. Wim Kok was the prime minister, Annemarie Jorritsma as the deputy prime minister for the VVD, and Els Borst for D66. The cabinet was considered boring, because both left-wing and right-wing political parties were a part of it. There was no strong opposition in the House of Representatives. This cabinet was notable for resigning twice. The first time was in May 1999, when D66 stepped out of the coalition when proposed legislation entered by this party was blocked; through negotiations the crisis was solved and the cabinet stayed together. The second and final time was on 16 April 2002, close to the natural end of term for the cabinet, when prime minister Kok wished to resign over the report by the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies into the fall of Srebrenica in 1995 and the other ministers had no choice but to follow him. The Second Kok cabinet remained in place as a caretaker cabinet until 22 July 2002, when it was replaced by the first Balkenende cabinet.

During most of Kok's time as Prime Minister, the Netherlands was booming economically and Kok was credited internationally for the Dutch polder model. This same "polder model" went out of fashion early 2002, which saw the rise of Pim Fortuyn, a political newcomer.

Srebrenica[edit]

An official, seven year investigation of the Srebrenica incident by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation resulted in the report, Srebrenica: a ‘safe’ area, published April 10, 2002, which resulted in the Prime Minister Wim Kok resignation six days later. The 3,400-page report criticized the political and military High Commands of the Netherlands as being guilty of criminal negligence, for not preventing the massacre. The conclusions were devastating:

The mission was not suitably prepared. There was no coordination between the Ministry of Defence (under Joris Voorhoeve) and of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (under Hans van Mierlo). The contingent did not receive sufficient means to accomplish the mission. Adequate firepower and Forward Air Controllers (FACS) to direct air attacks were missing. The non-Dutch in charge of air support refused to give aid as requested by Karremans. The Netherlands and the UN did not perform their duty.

Kok's second cabinet fell just weeks before the May 2002 elections when Kok and all his ministers stepped down because of the discussion about the possible Dutch responsibility in the Srebrenica massacre, and the Labour Party headed by Ad Melkert went on to lose the Dutch general election of 2002.

After politics[edit]

Kok left Dutch politics after the election, as he had already announced the year before, but that does not mean his political life has ended. Like many whose official political careers have ended, he continues to influence politics.

After his premiership, Kok retired from active politics at the age of sixty-three and became a lobbyist for the European Union and presided over several "high-level groups". He also occupied numerous seats on supervisory boards in the business and industry world (ING Group, Koninklijke TNT Post, Royal Dutch Shell, KLM, Stork B.V., International Commission on Missing Persons, International Crisis Group, Anne Frank Foundation and served as president of the Club of Madrid from 2009 until 2014).[3] Kok was highly praised for his Third Way and Polder model philosophies and for the success of leading his Purple Coalitions. Kok during that time obtained the status of a statesman by his fellow European leaders. The Cabinet Kok I is to date the last Cabinet of the Netherlands to have completed a full term. On April 11, 2003, he was granted the honorary title of Minister of State.[4]

Lisbon Strategy[edit]

Between April and November 2004, Kok headed up a review of the Lisbon Strategy and presented a report containing suggestions on how to give new impetus to the Lisbon process. The European Commission used this report to declare that the social and environmental parts are no longer a priority and declared a return to the Lisbon Agenda under economic terms only. Kok now lobbies for the Lisbon Strategy of the European Commission and has also been appointed to the Advisory Board of the European Association of History Educators.

Personal[edit]

In 1965 Kok married his girlfriend of four years Margrietha "Rita" Roukema (born 1939). She was a young divorced mother who had two children, a son André (born 1962) who is mentally and physically handicapped, and a daughter Carla. Kok adopted her two children and a few years later they had a son Marcel.[5]

Honours and honorary appointments[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (Dutch) Wim Kok (1938) Biografie, Absolutefacts.nl, June 4, 2010
  2. ^ (Dutch) Wim Kok: bezuiniger tegen wil en dank, Elsevier, March 29, 2012
  3. ^ (Dutch) Wim Kok voorzitter Club van Madrid, Telegraaf, November 13, 2009
  4. ^ (Dutch) Dr. W. Kok, Rijksoverheid, April 11, 2003
  5. ^ (Dutch) 'Ik zou graag opa willen worden, dat lijkt me een mooie tijdsbesteding', Opzij.nl, December 1, 1997
  6. ^ REAL DECRETO 1143/2001 - website Boletín Oficial del Estado (Spanish)

External links[edit]

Official
Party political offices
Preceded by
Joop den Uyl
Party Leader of the Labour Party
1986-2001
Succeeded by
Ad Melkert
Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party
in the House of Representatives

1986-1989
Succeeded by
Thijs Wöltgens
Preceded by
Thijs Wöltgens
Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party
in the House of Representatives

1994
Succeeded by
Jacques Wallage
Preceded by
Jacques Wallage
Parliamentary leader of the Labour Party
in the House of Representatives

1998
Government offices
Preceded by
Onno Ruding
Minister of Finance
1989-1994
Succeeded by
Gerrit Zalm
Preceded by
Ruud Lubbers
Minister of General Affairs
1994-2002
Succeeded by
Jan Peter Balkenende
Political offices
Preceded by
Rudolf de Korte
Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1989-1994
Succeeded by
Hans Dijkstal
Hans van Mierlo
Preceded by
Ruud Lubbers
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1994-2002
Succeeded by
Jan Peter Balkenende
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Ricardo Lagos
President of the Club of Madrid
2009–2014
Succeeded by
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga