Diederik Samsom

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Diederik Samsom
01. Diederik Samsom.jpg
Samsom in July 2012
Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives
In office
20 March 2012 – 12 December 2016
Preceded byJob Cohen
Succeeded byAttje Kuiken
Leader of the Labour Party
In office
20 March 2012 – 10 December 2016
Preceded byJob Cohen
Succeeded byLodewijk Asscher
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
30 January 2003 – 14 December 2016
Personal details
Diederik Maarten Samsom

(1971-07-10) 10 July 1971 (age 51)
Groningen, Netherlands
Political partyLabour Party
SpouseTineke (Divorced)
EducationDelft University of Technology (ir.)

Diederik Maarten Samsom (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈdidəˌrɪk ˈmaːrtən ˈsɑmsɔm] (listen); born 10 July 1971) is a Dutch environmentalist and retired politician who served the Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid PvdA) from 2012 to 2016. He was the first leader in the 70-year history of the PvdA to have been voted out of his position by party members. Since November 2019 Samsom is head of cabinet for First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans.

Elected to the House of Representatives between 30 January 2003 and 14 December 2016, he was elected PvdA parliamentary leader as well as party leader on 16 March 2012.[1] He lost the Labour Party leadership election to Lodewijk Asscher in December 2016. Before his election to the House of Representatives he was CEO of a green energy company and a campaigner for Greenpeace Netherlands.

Early life and career[edit]

Diederik Maarten Samsom was born on 10 July 1971 in Groningen in the Netherlands. He was raised in Leeuwarden. His father worked as an internist and his mother as a physiotherapist.

Between 1983 and 1989, he attended the Stedelijk Gymnasium (Municipal Gymnasium) in Leeuwarden. There he became interested in physics, and later he went on to study applied physics at Delft University of Technology.[2] Samsom specialised in nuclear physics and became a level three radiation protection expert. He graduated in May 1997, obtaining a Dutch engineer's degree (Dutch: ingenieur).[3] He was also on the board of the national students' union LSVb and edited a yearly edition of the Poenboek, a students' guide relating to monetary issues.

Samsom had been involved in environmental issues long before entering politics. Samsom joined environmental organisation Greenpeace Netherlands in September 1995 as a volunteer. He led several campaigns and projects until he resigned in December 2001, after the PvdA offered him a career in politics.[4] He also worked as the CEO of Echte Energie (Real Energy), a small green energy trading company, from August 2002 until January 2003.

Political career[edit]

Samsom became a member of the social democratic Labour party while a student in Delft. He left the party but rejoined in February 2001. He stood as a candidate in the 2002 Dutch general election, but was not elected due to the PvdA receiving insufficient votes in the election. The party regained most of its seats in the 2003 election and this time Samsom had a higher position (nine)[5] on the list of candidates. He was subsequently sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives on 30 January 2003.[6]

Red Engineer[edit]

Together with fellow PvdA parliamentarians Staf Depla and Jeroen Dijsselbloem he traveled around the country campaigning. They operated under the name The Red Engineers (Dutch: De rode ingenieurs), referring to both their scientific backgrounds and their red overalls. NRC newspaper editor Coen van Zwol called their campaign fresh, clear and sharp (Dutch: fris, helder en scherp).[7]


Diederik Samsom in 2006

Before being admitted as the leader of the Labour party, Samsom was the party's spokesperson on environmental issues: sustainability, climate and energy, traffic congestion and railway issues and projects. He was nineteenth on the list of candidates in the 2006 Dutch general elections receiving a relative high number of 6248 preferential votes.[8]

2008 parliamentary chair election[edit]

In April 2008, Samsom was a candidate to succeed Jacques Tichelaar as parliament party leader, but eventually he lost the vote to Mariëtte Hamer.

Jacques Tichelaar became the leader of the parliamentary party shortly after the 2006 general election in February 2007[9] but fell ill in January 2008. He underwent a septuple bypass surgery and this took him three months to recuperate. On 16 April, he announced he had decided to resign from office for health reasons.[10] Tichelaar planned to return as a parliamentarian on 1 July 2008.[11] As vice parliamentary leader Hamer had led the party in Tichelaar's absence. The next day she decided to run for office.[12] Three days later, Samsom officially announced that he would also compete in the race. Other names were mentioned, but only Samsom and Hamer decided to vie for the position.[13] All 33 PvdA parliamentarians gathered two days later to discuss the position and cast their votes, resulting in a victory for Hamer.[14]

According to pollster Maurice de Hond, a majority of the 2006 Labour voters preferred Samsom as party leader. Out of a total of 1,500 Labour voters, 26% favoured Hamer while 42% liked Samsom better. In this poll, of the people who indicated that they would vote for the PvdA in the future, a small majority of 40 to 35 preferred Samsom.[15]

Party leadership[edit]

Samsom after his victory in the leadership election

On 22 February 2012, following Job Cohen's resignation as party leader, Samsom stood as candidate in the party's leadership ballot which was held among the party members. On 16 March 2012, he obtained a landslide victory with 54% of the vote, with the runner-up Ronald Plasterk receiving 32% of the vote.[16] Samsom stated he would like to become prime minister should the PvdA become the largest party, or otherwise continue his role of chairman of his party in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer).[17]

Rutte II: coalition government[edit]

In the 2012 general election the PvdA, under Samsom's leadership, gained 8 seats and totaled at 38 seats in the Tweede Kamer. After a swift negotiations the PvdA, as second largest party, entered into a coalition with the largest party the VVD. Samsom remained chairman of the PvdA in the Tweede Kamer and Lodewijk Asscher became vicepremier and minister for Social Affairs and Employment on behalf of the PvdA.

EU-Turkey refugee deal[edit]

During the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union in early 2016, Diederik Samsom is credited with masterminding a key provision in the deal between the EU and Turkey.[18] The deal aimed to mitigate the mounting humanitarian crisis in the refugee camps on the Greek islands. Under the provision, for every Syrian refugee being returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian would be resettled from Turkey to the EU.[19]

2017 elections: resignation[edit]

Polls suggest that the Labour party lost most of its electoral base while Samsom was in charge. On 9 December 2016 Samson lost the leadership of the Labour Party in an election against Lodewijk Asscher. He obtained 45,5% of the vote.[20] Samson resigned from the House of Representatives on 14 December, and was replaced by Rien van der Velde.[21][22] Attje Kuiken took over the role of group leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives on 12 December.[23]

Media appearances[edit]

NRC newspaper referred to Samsom as quizking after he won his fifth televised game show.[24] Particularly notable are his consecutive victories in the 2005 and 2006 National IQ Tests.[7] According to the test, he has an IQ of 136.[25] He also won the popular National News Quiz in 2005 and 2006[26] and in May 2008 he was crowned winner of the Big History Quiz.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Samsom was raised in a non-religious family and considers himself an atheist. He is a non smoker and observes a vegetarian diet.[4][dead link] He cites swimming and water polo as his favourite sports.[4][dead link] Samsom divorced in 2016 and has two children. His daughter Benthe was born in 2001 and his son Fane was born in 2006. Samsom mentioned them in several political debates and interviews in a for the Netherlands unprecedented and criticized way, including drawing attention to his daughter's disability.[27] He also involved his private life and family in his 2012 electoral campaign, most notably by featuring his two children in an official party TV advertisement.[28][29]

Samsom lived on a houseboat in Broek in Waterland with his ex-wife (then girlfriend) and daughter before moving to Leiden, where he still resides as of 2012.[2][30] In a 2012 interview with Marie Claire, Samsom admitted that before his marriage he had been unfaithful "perhaps once or twice".[31][failed verification][32]


  1. ^ Spekman, Hans. "Party Chairman". Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b Abswoude, Peter van (February 2003). "Colloquium cum Diederik Samsom". Stentor: Acta Scholastica Gymnasii Civitatis Leovardiensis (in Dutch). 3: 23–25.
  3. ^ The title "ir." is like the international engineer's degree.
  4. ^ a b c "DIEDERIK SAMSOM" (in Dutch). Stichting Per Definitie. 2007. Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
  5. ^ "PvdA-kandidaten Tweede Kamerverkiezingen 2003" (in Dutch). Parlement.com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 15 May 2008.
  6. ^ "PvdA en Tweede Kamerverkiezingen 2003" (in Dutch). Parlement.com. Retrieved 15 May 2008.
  7. ^ a b Zwol, Coen van (22 April 2008). "Diederik Samsom, een ambitieuze ex-radicaal". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 15 May 2008.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Uitslag van de Tweede Kamerverkiezing van 22 november 2006" (in Dutch). Kiesraad. 22 November 2006. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
  9. ^ "Jacques Tichelaar fractievoorzitter PvdA" (in Dutch). NU.nl. 14 February 2007. Retrieved 18 May 2008.
  10. ^ "PvdA-fractieleider Tichelaar treedt af". Algemeen Dagblad (in Dutch). 16 April 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2008.
  11. ^ "Fractievoorzitter PvdA legt functie neer". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). 16 April 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2008.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Hamer wil fractieleider PvdA worden" (in Dutch). De Pers. 17 April 2008. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  13. ^ "Samsom kandidaat fractievoorzitterschap PvdA". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). 21 April 2008. Archived from the original on 25 April 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2008.
  14. ^ "Hamer nieuwe fractievoorzitter" (in Dutch). Partij van de Arbeid. 22 April 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2008.[dead link]
  15. ^ Kloor, Robin van der (24 April 2008). "PvdA-kiezer wil Samsom, en niet Hamer" (in Dutch). Elsevier. Retrieved 18 May 2008.
  16. ^ Spekman, Hans (16 March 2012). "Diederik Samsom politiek leider" (in Dutch). PvdA. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  17. ^ "De energievoorraad van Diederik Samsom raakt nooit op". Trouw (in Dutch). 17 March 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  18. ^ "Samsom bedacht de formule achter Turkijedeal". NRC (in Dutch). Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  19. ^ "EU-Turkey statement, 18 March 2016 - Consilium". www.consilium.europa.eu. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  20. ^ Joost de Vries (9 December 2016). "Asscher verslaat Samsom in lijsttrekkersstrijd PvdA". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  21. ^ "Ir. D.M. (Diederik) Samsom" (in Dutch). Parlement.com. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Nieuw Tweede Kamerlid voor de PvdA: Emre Ünver" (in Dutch). Parlement.com. 15 December 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  23. ^ "Attje Kuiken nieuwe fractievoorzitter PvdA" (in Dutch). Parlement.com. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  24. ^ a b "Diederik Samsom winnaar Grote Geschiedenis Quiz". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). 1 May 2008. Archived from the original on 3 May 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
  25. ^ "Diederik Samsom wint Nationale IQ Test". Trouw (in Dutch). 23 January 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
  26. ^ "Samsom: Jan Smit past beste bij PvdA" (in Dutch). De Volkskrant. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
  27. ^ "Dochter Samsom verdient bescherming" (in Dutch). Metro. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  28. ^ "Dutch Labor party surges in opinion polls, threatens to unseat Prime Minister Mark Rutte". The Washington Post. 8 September 2012. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  29. ^ "PvdA-voorman Diederik Samsom gebruikt gehandicapte dochter in campagnespotjfe om stemmen te trekken" (in Dutch). zijonline.nl. 30 June 2012. Archived from the original on 4 July 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
  30. ^ "Bijlage bij nieuwsbericht - uitslag Tweede Kamerverkiezing 2012" (PDF) (in Dutch). Kiesraad. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
  31. ^ "U.S.-Styled Campaign Catapults Dutch Labor Leader". The Wall Street Journal. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  32. ^ "Samsom had vroeger krullen en meer onthullingen" (in Dutch). Parool. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2012.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives
Succeeded by