Job Cohen

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Job Cohen
Portrait of Job Cohen
Job Cohen in March 2010
Parliamentary leaderLabour Party
House of Representatives of the Netherlands
In office
10 June 2010 – 20 February 2012
Preceded by Mariëtte Hamer
Succeeded by Diederik Samsom
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
17 June 2010 – 20 February 2012
Mayor of Amsterdam
In office
15 January 2001 – 12 March 2010
Preceded by Schelto Patijn
Succeeded by Lodewijk Asscher (Ad interim)
State Secretary for Justice
In office
3 August 1998 – 1 January 2001
Prime Minister Wim Kok
Preceded by Elizabeth Schmitz
Succeeded by Ella Kalsbeek
Parliamentary leaderLabour Party
In office
1 August 1996 – 3 August 1998
Preceded by Joop van den Berg
Succeeded by Johan Stekelenburg
Member of the Senate
In office
13 June 1995 – 3 August 1998
State Secretary for Education and Sciences
In office
2 July 1993 – 22 August 1994
Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers
Preceded by Roel in 't Veld
Succeeded by Tineke Netelenbos
Personal details
Born Marius Job Cohen
(1947-10-18) 18 October 1947 (age 68)
Haarlem, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s) Lidie Cohen (m. 1972; d. 2015)
Children Jaap Cohen (born 1980)
Lotje Cohen (born 1983)
Residence Amsterdam, Netherlands
Alma mater University of Groningen (LL.M. in Public law)
Leiden University (PhD in Law)
Occupation Politician, rector, legal scholar (law professor)
Website (Dutch) Labour Party website

Marius Job Cohen (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmaːrijʏs ˈjɔp koˈɦɛn]; born 18 October 1947) is a Dutch social democratic politician and former legal scholar.

Cohen obtained his Master of Laws degree at the University of Groningen (1971) and his PhD at Leiden University (1981). In 1983 he became a law professor of methods and techniques and in 1991 rector magnificus at Maastricht University.

As a member of the Labour Party, Cohen held several political positions and offices over the years. He was State Secretary for Education and Sciences in the third Lubbers cabinet (1993–1994), member of and parliamentary group leader in the Senate (1995–1998), State Secretary for Justice in the second Kok cabinet (1998–2001), and Mayor of Amsterdam (2001–2010).

He resigned as mayor in order to become the top candidate (lijsttrekker) for the Labour Party in the 2010 general election.[1][2][3] On 25 April 2010 Cohen was officially elected as lijsttrekker of the Labour Party.[4]

From 2010 he served as the leader of the Labour Party and from 17 June 2010 he was a member of the House of Representatives, where he also was the Parliamentary group leader of the Labour Party. He resigned as Party leader and Member of the House of Representatives on 20 February 2012 after increasing criticism on his performance.[5]

Family and education[edit]

Marius Job Cohen was born in Haarlem in the province of North Holland. He is the second child (of two) of Adolf Emile "Dolf" Cohen (1913–2004) and Henriëtte "Hetty" Koster (1913–1996). His elder brother is Floris Cohen (born 1946).[6][7]

His parents both studied history and became high school teachers of history.[6][8] They were liberal (non-religious) Jews, and were forced into hiding until the end of World War II.[6] His paternal grandparents Hendrik Cohen and Flora Polak both died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.[9] After the war, his father worked at the Dutch Institute for War Documentation.[10] Later he became a professor of medieval history and a rector magnificus at Leiden University.[11][12] His mother became a member of the city council of Heemstede. His parents were both early members of the Labour Party.[6]

Cohen went to a public primary school in Heemstede. He attended the secondary school Stedelijk Gymnasium in Haarlem from 1960 to 1966. He studied Dutch public law at the University of Groningen from 1966 and obtained his Master of Laws degree in 1971. During his student years, he was a member of the student association Vindicat atque Polit.

Cohen married his wife Lidie on 2 July 1972 in Groningen. She studied Dutch language in Groningen and was a high school teacher. She has multiple sclerosis and is in a wheelchair. Cohen and his wife have two children, son Jaap (born 1980) and daughter Lotje (born 1983).[13] His wife died on 4 August 2015.[14]

Academic career[edit]

Between 1 September 1971 and 1 September 1981, Job Cohen held a scientific position at the Bureau Research of Education at Leiden University. He obtained a doctorate (PhD) from this university in June 1981, with a dissertation on the rights of university students.[15]

On 1 September 1981 he joined the State University of Limburg in a higher scientific capacity, and was chairman of the commission that prepared the establishment of a faculty of law. On 1 September 1983 Cohen became professor of methods and techniques at the faculty of law; on 1 January 1991 he also became rector magnificus of the State University of Limburg. He resigned from this position to become State Secretary for Education and Sciences in 1993.

In 1995 he returned to his position in Maastricht as professor and rector magnificus at Maastricht University (the former State University of Limburg). From 1 January 1998, he took a sabbatical year, but he resigned in August 1998 when he became State Secretary for Justice.

Cohen has received two honorary degrees for his contributions to law and society, one in 2007 from the University of Windsor[16] and one in 2008 from the Radboud University Nijmegen.[17]

Political career[edit]

State Secretary for Education and Sciences[edit]

On 2 July 1993, Cohen became State Secretary (deputy minister) for Education and Sciences in the third cabinet of Ruud Lubbers, under education minister Jo Ritzen. In Cohen's portfolio were higher and academic education, science policy, and adult education. The term of this post expired after a year and Cohen returned to his academic post in Maastricht.

Member of the Senate[edit]

From 13 June 1995, Cohen was a member of the Senate of the Netherlands. Between 1 August 1996 until he resigned from the Senate on 3 August 1998, he was also the parliamentary group leader of the Labour Party in the Senate.

During his period in the Senate, he also worked for the Maastricht University, where he began a sabbatical year on 1 January 1998. In February 1998 however, he took on the function of interim-director of the broadcasting organization VPRO, lasting until 15 August.

State Secretary for Justice[edit]

On 3 August 1998, he resigned from the Senate to take up the position of State Secretary for Justice in the second cabinet of Wim Kok, dealing chiefly with immigration. In this capacity he was responsible for a new immigration law, intended to restrict entry of refugees to "genuine cases".

Mayor of Amsterdam[edit]

Job Cohen and President of Russia Vladimir Putin in 2005
Job Cohen during annual Amsterdam Gay Pride in 2008

He resigned his position as State Secretary on 31 December 2000 in order to take up the position of Mayor of Amsterdam (burgemeester) on 15 January 2001. Mayors of Dutch cities are appointed by the cabinet in the name of the monarch.[18]

At midnight on 1 April 2001, Cohen became the first public official to wed same-sex couples, following the passing of legislation opening up marriage to people of the same gender (see Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands).[19]

On 2 February 2002, Job Cohen performed the civil marriage of Prince Willem-Alexander and Máxima Zorreguieta in the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam.[20]

In November 2004, controversial film maker Theo van Gogh was killed in Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist. Time awarded Cohen the title "European Hero" in 2005, for his inclusive approach towards the Muslim community after the murder, defusing tension in the city.[21]

Cohen found himself thrown into the role of mediator between the city's Muslims, the original Dutch population and other groups in the cultural and racial mix. Almost half Amsterdam's residents are of non-Western descent, a majority of them Muslims."Islam is here to stay, in this country, in this city (...) We have to deal with Islam as a fact, not whether we like it. So the real question is how to get on with each other." Cohen took pride in the fact that in Amsterdam no violence or arson occurred in response to the killing.[22] By his visiting ethnic groups, organizing debates among religious leaders and his listening and promoting dialogue, he received from opponents the mocking nickname of "tea drinker" – an image that would be exploited by them when he returned in the Dutch national politics in 2010.[23]

On 27 January 2006 Cohen announced he would be willing to serve a second term as mayor of Amsterdam. On 12 July 2006 the municipality of Amsterdam almost unanimously (Democrats 66 opposed, being in favour of an elected mayor) supported Cohen to prolong his career as a mayor after 15 January 2007 when his first term ended. The Queen's Commissioner Harry Borghouts of North Holland will now have to offer this advice to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Cohen's politics towards ethnic minorities in Amsterdam is characterized by the slogan "keeping things together" (de boel bij elkaar houden). On 2 May 2006 Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk of the centre-right VVD accused Amsterdam of becoming a "banana republic", with a lax safety policy: she cited the criminal liquidations and the disturbance caused by young people as examples of this. In the yearly crime meter of the Algemeen Dagblad Amsterdam did not perform particularly badly in safety policy and crime fighting, one of the reasons for this is Cohen's targeted approach towards those who commit multiple crimes (veelplegers). Cohen stated that his policy which combines soft and hard approaches, fighting crime and fighting the causes of crime, was the key to his successful safety policy.

In 2006 the World Mayor organization determined Cohen to be runner-up in the award for World Mayor of 2006, behind Melbourne mayor John So, and ahead of Harrisburg mayor Stephen R. Reed. World Mayor praised Cohen's leadership following the murder of Theo van Gogh in 2004, and his efforts at bringing together the diverse population of Amsterdam.[24][25]

In late 2007, Cohen moved to reduce prostitution in Amsterdam, following allegations that Hells Angels and other organized criminals had taken over the prostitution industry. The city council bought 18 buildings in the red light district De Wallen from Charlie Geerts in order to convert them into upscale establishments and revoked the license of the luxury brothel Yab Yum.[26][27]

Leader of the Labour Party[edit]

Job Cohen after he announced his candidacy for the Labour Party leadership

On 12 March 2010, Wouter Bos resigned as leader of the Labour Party. Bos named Cohen as candidate for the position, which he accepted. At the subsequent elections, Cohen was a candidate for Prime Minister. He was expected to be a strong opponent to Geert Wilders and was described in the press as "authoritarian but enlightened."[28] Exit polls showed the Labour Party as the second largest with 30 seats and 19.6% of the total vote.[29] Eventually his opponent Mark Rutte of the VVD became the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

He has been chair of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives since 10 June 2010 and a member of the House of Representatives since 17 June 2010.

On 20 February 2012, he resigned as leader of the Labour Party, he also left the House of Representatives over criticisms that he had been too moderate towards the center-right Dutch government's planned economic austerity measures and the Dutch government's support for the EU Commission's plan to bail out Greece, which had been passed with the support of the Dutch Labour Party. At the time of his resignation, the Dutch Socialist Party, which was to the left of the Dutch Labour Party, had over taken the Dutch Labour Party in a number of opinion polls.

Honors and awards[edit]


Books (as author)
  • Studierechten in het wetenschappelijk onderwijs (1981), dissertation[41]
  • Binden (2009), collection of speeches and lectures[42]
Audio books (as narrator)


  1. ^ (Dutch) PvdA-leider Bos stapt op/Cohen mogelijk opvolger. NOS Nieuws. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  2. ^ (Dutch) Cohen wil lijsttrekker PvdA worden. NRC Handelsblad. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  3. ^ (Dutch) New Labour leader Cohen: hard man, soft touch. NRC Handelsblad. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  4. ^ (Dutch) Cohen officieel lijsttrekker PvdA. RTL Nieuws. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  5. ^ (Dutch) Cohen : onvoldoende geslaagd. (NOS) Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d (Dutch) Joodsch Lyceum en huwelijk. Leiden University. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  7. ^ (Dutch) Heemsteedse herinneringen aan Job Cohen (deel 1). De Heemsteder. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  8. ^ (Dutch) Studie geschiedenis te Leiden. Leiden University. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  9. ^ (Dutch) Jeugdjaren in Rotterdam. Leiden University. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  10. ^ (Dutch) Altijd en nooit echt geweest . Leiden University. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  11. ^ (Dutch) Hoogleraar middeleeuwse geschiedenis te Leiden. Leiden University. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  12. ^ (Dutch) Rector magnificus I: het waarnemen van de verandering. Leiden University. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  13. ^ (Dutch) Goos gaat... (Lidie Cohen). Esta. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  14. ^ (Dutch) Mirjam Remie, "Lidie Cohen op 67-jarige leeftijd overleden", NRC Handelsblad, 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  15. ^ (Dutch) M.J. Cohen, Studierechten in het wetenschappelijk onderwijs (review of the dissertation). Jan Tom Bos & Marc Groenhuijsen. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  16. ^ 87th Convocation Webcast. University of Windsor. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  17. ^ (Dutch) Eredoctoraat voor dr. M.J. Cohen. Radboud University Nijmegen. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  18. ^ Profile: Mayor Job Cohen
  19. ^ "Going Dutch". The Guardian. 2 April 2001. Retrieved 21 December 2007. 
  20. ^ Marriage and family. The Dutch Royal House. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  21. ^ Abi Daruvalla (8 October 2005). "Job Cohen – Key to the city". Time. Retrieved 12 December 2006. 
  22. ^ "In Amsterdam, mayor is a job for a mediator"
  23. ^ "New Labour leader Cohen: hard man, soft touch"
  24. ^ "Amsterdam closes a window on its red-light tourist trade" by Anushka Asthana, The Observer, 23 September 2007.
  25. ^ "John So, Lord Mayor of Melbourne wins the 2006 World Mayor Award". 5 December 2006. 
  26. ^ Amsterdam mayor to clean up red light district, Pink News, 8 January 2008
  27. ^ "Pimping ban in Amsterdam?" by Eric Hesen, Radio Netherlands Worldwide (website), 21 September 2007.
  28. ^ "Cohen: authoritarian but enlightened"
  29. ^ (Dutch) Bijna alle stemmen geteld, NOS, 10 June 2010
  30. ^ "Key to the city." Time Magazine. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  31. ^ (Dutch) "Beste burgemeester van de afgelopen 25 jaar: Job Cohen". Trouw. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  32. ^ Citizenship Award. Foundation P&V. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  33. ^ Job Cohen to Receive Honorary Degree at Law Convocation. University of Windsor. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  34. ^ (Dutch) Job Cohen is de 25ste Reclameman van het Jaar. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  35. ^ (Dutch) Eredoctoraten van de Radboud Universiteit. Radboud University. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  36. ^ (Dutch) Eredoctoraat voor dr. M.J. Cohen. Radboud University. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  37. ^ (Dutch) "Cohen wint eerste Martin Luther King Award". Trouw. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  38. ^ (Dutch) "Cohen krijgt onderscheiding van Letland". de Volkskrant. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  39. ^ (Latvian) Ordeņu kapituls piešķīris 151 valsts apbalvojumu par godu Latvijas Republikas 90. gadskārtai. Latvijas Reitingi. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  40. ^ (Dutch) "Cohen ontvangt medaille bij afscheid van Amsterdam". Trouw. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  41. ^ (Dutch) Studierechten in het wetenschappelijk onderwijs. Leiden University. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  42. ^ (Dutch) Binden. Uitgeverij Prometheus. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  43. ^ a b c d e f (Dutch) Luisterboeken voorgelezen door Job Cohen. Uitgeverij Rubinstein. Retrieved 31 August 2010.

External links[edit]

  • (Dutch) Job Cohen, official website
Political offices
Preceded by
Roel in 't Veld
State Secretary for Education and Sciences
Succeeded by
Tineke Netelenbos
Preceded by
Elizabeth Schmitz
State Secretary for Justice
Succeeded by
Ella Kalsbeek
Preceded by
Schelto Patijn
Mayor of Amsterdam
Succeeded by
Lodewijk Asscher (ad interim)
Party political offices
Preceded by
Joop van den Berg
Parliamentary leaderLabour Party

Succeeded by
Johan Stekelenburg
Preceded by
Wouter Bos
Party leaderLabour Party
Succeeded by
Diederik Samsom
Preceded by
Mariëtte Hamer
Parliamentary leaderLabour Party
House of Representatives

Succeeded by
Diederik Samsom
Academic offices
Preceded by
Vic Bonke
Rector magnificus of State University of Limburg
Succeeded by
Hans Philipsen
Preceded by
Hans Philipsen
Succeeded by
Arie Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman